By Jonah Bennett
Almost 50 percent of all California driver’s licenses issued in 2015 went to illegal immigrants, according to recent state reports, wrapping up the first year of a state-wide program designed to provide Department of Motor Vehicle services to those without citizenship.
In total, California issued 605,000 driver’s licenses to illegals a year after the program started Jan 2, 2015, which is far more than the anticipated number, the Orange County Register reports. The program is expected to cost the state $141 million over a period of three years.
There have been 830,000 applications from illegals, based on numbers from Dec. 31, 2015.
The program, one of the biggest in the DMV’s history, was created by Assembly Bill 60 in 2013 and courted massive opposition at the time from groups angry at the suggestion illegals should have the same rights as citizens.
Part of the push for the bill came from those who argued that the roads would be safer with more licensed drivers. There is not enough data yet available to assess whether or not that is true. Unlike normal driver’s licenses, these special illegal immigrant licenses cannot be used as federal identification.
“DMV committed to successfully implementing this new law to increase safety on California’s roads by putting licensed drivers behind the steering wheel,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. “One year after AB 60 implementation there are 605,000 more drivers on the road who have passed all testing requirements and demonstrated their knowledge of California’s rules of the road.”
Estimates place the number of illegals in California at 2.4 million, meaning that the driver’s license program captured an incredibly large portion of that population.
The DMV went out of its way to hire 1,000 new employees to handle the surge in applications. The agency also opened four new centers and made office hours more flexible.
Still, despite the agency’s best efforts, processing centers ground to a halt at the flood of illegals looking for driver’s licenses.
Ann Coil, Santa Ana Tea Party Patriots coordinator told the Orange County Register that “There is concern in this country, and it’s reflected in this election, that there’s more compassion for people who are not citizens than those who are.”
Longer wait times particularly impacted the senior population, as those over 70 must appear in person to renew their licenses. These seniors have had to wait in lines for hours and hours.
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