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art by Favianna Rodriguez

Art by Favianna Rodriguez

“ You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. ” – César Chávez, UFW

As DMV readies regulations for landmark license law, immigrant groups launch petition campaign

Community orgs push for strong privacy and anti-discrimination protections, flexibility on what ID documents DMV will accept, to make sure no one is left out

May 5, 2014

[Para español, haga clic aquí]

Los Angeles - With immigrant community members eager to obtain licenses under California's historic AB 60 (Alejo), “Drive California” - a broad alliance of immigrant and civil rights groups - has launched an online petition drive urging the Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure the application process for the new licenses is inclusive and equitable.

The DMV is preparing to release draft regulations as soon as this month. The online petition echoes key demands that scores of immigrant leaders shared at two impassioned public meetings hosted by the agency in Sacramento and Los Angeles earlier this year.

“We have been working alongside the DMV and numerous organizations across the state for years to achieve an inclusive driver license for all,” said Patricia Diaz, Executive Director at Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network in San Jose. “And now we must ensure that those individuals who come forward to apply can do so without fear of abuse or discrimination.”

“Our members stepped in a big way to secure driver’s licenses for undocumented families last year,” said Arturo Carmona, Executive Director of Presente.org, the largest online Latino advocacy organization in the country. “In the coming weeks, we’ll be mobilizing our community online and on the ground to make sure that the DMV safeguards applicants against discrimination. The eyes of the nation are watching and so it’s critical that California sets the standard for doing this right.”

Reshma Shamasunder, Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, added: “The community fought long and hard to win AB 60. Now, we call on the DMV to ensure that no community member is left out of this historic opportunity. The DMV must create an inclusive application process that honors the beautiful diversity of our state. The DMV must take the national lead in protecting the privacy and civil rights of all Californians. And we must ensure that speakers of California's rainbow of languages have the support they need to successfully take the test.”

The groups are urging the DMV to make sure all 1.4 million undocumented Californians eligible for licenses have a fair opportunity to apply and aren’t hampered by roadblocks. Specifically, the petition calls upon the DMV to:

- Safeguard the privacy of applicants' personal information, by limiting what immigration information applicants will provide and ensuring information will not be shared with the federal government

- Create strong, enforceable protections against discrimination, and ensure minimal markings on the license as AB 60 itself specifies

- Take a common-sense approach to accepting identity documents that reflects immigrant communities' varied experience. Some immigrants who fled difficult circumstances only have identification documents issued by community groups, others come from countries which are simply unable to issue passports in a timely manner.

- Honor the diversity of California's immigrant communities by incorporating language access policies throughout the process

Organizers are encouraging community members to sign and share the petition at http://act.presente.org/sign/DriveCA/

Hosted by Latino online advocacy organization Presente.org, the petition is endorsed by a number of groups, including CAUSE in the Central Coast; the California Immigrant Policy Center; Nuestra Casa East Palo Alto; Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN); TODEC Legal Center, and Youth United for Community Action (YUCA) in East Palo Alto. Groups plan to circulate the petition on social media for several weeks.

The Safe and Responsible Driver Act (AB 60 by Asm. Luis Alejo) will benefit all Californians by ensuring that all California drivers are licensed, tested, and insured. Licenses under the new law will be available no later than January 1, 2015, but may become available sooner if the DMV is ready to issue them.

The groups are also encouraging community members to begin studying now for the DMV's examinations. Resources are available in Spanish and other languages on the DMV’s website at http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/ab60/span/index.html