LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of undocumented immigrants lined up Friday outside California Department of Motor Vehicles locations to apply for driver’s licenses.
Friday was the first day that applicants, under AB 60, can apply for a first-time licenses at any of the state’s 170 DMV offices without fear of being deported.
Many people waited in line in the freezing temperatures overnight outside the DMV in Granada Hills.
“I can be here for three nights no matter what if they’re going to give me a driver’s license,” Carlos Barrera said.
Applicants must prove identity, California residency as well as provide fingerprints and pass hand-written and behind-the-wheel driving exams.
“I’m still excited, but I’m still nervous because I still have to do the driving test,” immigrant Priscila Sanchez said after passing her permit test.
Nearly 1.5 million undocumented immigrants are expected to apply over the next three years.
“It’s so important to this community and the state of California. For once, after almost 20 years, we’re going to have safe highways again because we’re going to know every motorist is licensed tested and insured,” LA City Councilmember Gil Cedillo said.
“When you get a driver’s license now it’s like you see the light,” immigrant Gisel Santiago said.
The DMV has prepared for the influx across the state by hiring more than 1,000 employees, opened four new license processing centers and will offer Saturday office hours at 60 locations starting Saturday.
Not everyone has been as enthusiastic about AB 60. A small group of protesters showed up at the Long Beach office of Senator Ricardo Lara, who co-authored the bill.
Protesters say any money spent on AB 60 should be spent on veterans instead.
They also delivered letters to Lara’s office, signed by parents whose children were killed by drivers in the U.S. illegally.