California Seeks Emergency OK of Drivers License Rules for Immigrants in US Illegally

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Raul Ortega holds a sign as he celebrates after Gov. Jerry Brown signed bill AB60 on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall Oct. 3, 2013. The bill, also known as the Safe and Responsible Driver Act, allows undocumented immigrants to receive a permit to legally drive in California. (Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Facing a deadline of Jan. 2 to begin issuing driver’s licenses to Californians in the country illegally, state officials said Friday they will pursue emergency approval of regulations that spell out which documents must be provided to prove identity and state residency.

The Legislature and governor in 2013 approved a new law that requires the state Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a driver’s license, starting in 2015, to anyone who can prove their identity and California residence as well as pass a driving-knowledge and road-skills test.

The public process for approving the documentation has taken months so the normal 180-day timeline for enacting regulations will take too long to meet the Jan. 2 deadline. The state will pursue the normal process but also an emergency process that takes 15 days and goes through the state Office of Administrative Law.

“Our commitment is to successfuly implement this law to increase safety on California roads and protect the high level of security in our licensing and identity verification process,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto in a statement.

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