More than half the new driver's licenses issued in California during the first six months of the year have gone to immigrants in the country illegally, the state Department of Motor Vehicles reported Friday.
Immigrants received 397,000 of the 759,000 original driver's licenses issued in California since the January beginning of a new law aimed at providing licenses to those not legally in the country but who can document their identity and California residency.
"The latest numbers reflect the continued successful implementation of AB 60," said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. "The DMV was determined to develop a process that would not only meet the stringent requirements of this new law, but also the unique needs of our newly expanded customer base."
Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials decided to provide licenses to immigrants so they could legally drive to work and school and to improve traffic safety by requiring them to pass the driver's license test and get insurance.
Many more immigrants are in line to receive the specially marked licenses, which do not entitle them to vote or board airplanes.
The DMV reported that it has received about 687,000 driver's license applications from immigrants who are in the country illegally, while 1.4 million people have visited the DMV to ask about the special licenses.