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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

California Groups Reject DHS’s Attempt to Strong-Arm State on Driver’s Licenses

Broad coalition urges DHS to let California move forward with creating a driver’s license that provides the greatest protections for the state’s immigrant communities.

May 7, 2014

LOS ANGELES -- Drive California, a statewide coalition composed of a broad range of civil and immigrants’ rights groups including CIPC, Presente, the ACLU of Northern California, SIREN, PEOC, and TODEC, strongly object to DHS’s refusal to let California move forward with creating a driver’s license that protects immigrant communities from discrimination.

The driver’s license design submitted to DHS and agreed upon in AB 60, “The Safe and Responsible Driver Act” would include a “DP” on the front and “Not for official federal purposes” on the back.

Unfortunately, DHS is insisting that the license design include a substantially more prominent distinguishing mark on the front. In response, Drive California issued the following statement:

“DHS has in other regards demonstrated flexibility and pragmatism in implementing the REAL ID Act of 2005, but is taking an inexplicably hardline position by rejecting California’s good faith effort to design a AB 60 driver’s license that is compliant with the Act.


We are baffled that DHS has actively tried to thwart protections in a law California passed that carefully balances compliance with federal law and ensures the greatest protections for community members.


DHS maintains that in order for federal officials to distinguish the AB 60 license from other licenses, the marking must be substantially more prominent on the front of AB 60 licenses. Does the agency have so little faith in TSA employees that it doubts their ability to distinguish a license that clearly states ‘Not valid for official federal purposes’ from one that does not?


Members of the Drive California coalition will continue our conversations with DHS and the state of California to ensure that AB 60 driver’s licenses both comply with the REAL ID Act, and protect community members.


California must do the right thing and ensure that all its residents are protected from discrimination by anyone who may see the license, such as landlords, grocery store clerks, or other non-governmental actors. It would be a shame to let DHS push California into doing anything short of that.”