Politics

California Puts Price Tag on Drivers Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

| by Allison Geller

California DMVs are preparing for an influx of new drivers license seekers with the recent legalization of licenses for undocumented immigrants, leaving some worried about how the state will foot the bill. 

Gov. Jerry Brown designated $64.7 million of the 2014-15 state budget for the hiring of 800 temporary DMV workers, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Opponents want immigrants to pay an additional charge besides the usual $33 fee to mitigate the costs.

“It’s unbelievable that they’re doing this,” said Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee). “My understanding is the applicant fee is supposed to pay for this.”

Jones also fears that the temporary workers will become permanent, straining the state’s budget farther, and suggested that DMV workers freed up from the increasing amount of online services could also pull their weight in registering new drivers.

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The cost for the licenses has not been finalized, and it’s possible that an additional surcharge will be added.

“A lot of applicants would be willing to pay more, but we want to keep the cost as reasonable as possible ” said Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), who added that the DMV is still finalizing the program and costs, and may add a surcharge of up to $100 after meeting with constituency groups in spring. “The language is flexible.”

California DMVs expect over a half million applicants during the first six months of the program. A new DMV in Fresno is being built just in time to accommodate the surge.

More and more states are allowing undocumented immigrants drivers licenses despite prevailing public opinion that they shouldn’t be allowed, Newsmax reported. Nevada is the latest state to approve a measure granting licenses to non-citizens, following behind California, Utah, Washington, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, New Mexico, Illinois, and the District of Columbia. 68% of Americans, however, oppose it, and only 22% support licenses for the undocumented in their states, according to an October poll by Rasmussen Reports.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C. called the measure “a kind of amnesty” for illegal immigrants, which national groups see as a way of imbedding immigrants in society and furthering the push for immigration reform.

Sources: San Diego Union-Tribune, Newsmax, Fresno Bee