Gavin Newsom Signs Law Allowing Undocumented California Residents To Obtain State ID
Gavin Newsom, governor of California, during The Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas, US, on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.
Jordan Vonderhaar/Bloomberg via Getty Images

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a package of bills related to undocumented residents last week that includes approval of state identification for migrants in the state.

Newsom signed the bill, AB 1766, that directs California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue a restricted identification card to eligible participants by no later than July 1, 2027.

“California is expanding opportunity for everyone, regardless of immigration status,” Newsom said in a statement.

“We’re a state of refuge – a majority-minority state, where 27 percent of us are immigrants. That’s why I’m proud to announce the signing of today’s bills to further support our immigrant community, which makes our state stronger every single day,” he added.

The text of the new law states, “This bill would specify that immigration enforcement, as defined, does not constitute an urgent health and safety need for those purposes, and would prohibit a government agency or department, law enforcement agency, commercial entity, or other person from obtaining, accessing, using, or otherwise disclosing, noncriminal history information maintained by the department, for the purpose of immigration enforcement.”

The change would prohibit the DMV from using migrant status as a factor in obtaining state identification.

The law follows a controversy in the state in 2018 in which 1,500 people were improperly registered to vote in California by the DMV, including non-citizens. Then-California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D), who is now a U.S. Senator, said he did not know if any of those registered had voted in the state’s June 2018 primary election.

Approximately 1,500 people told the DMV they were ineligible or didn’t confirm their eligibility during the registration period, according to the Associated Press. This group included at least one non-citizen living in the state in addition to other potential violations. People under 18 were also reportedly included, along with some who may have been ineligible due to a past criminal conviction.

Other bills signed in the package of laws for undocumented residents include a variety of measures on behalf of immigrants living in the state.

“Immigrant students will have improved access to in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, and to ESL courses at community colleges. Additionally, immigrant student borrowers will have more options to finance their college educations,” the news release added.

The controversial change as part of SB 1141 will offer in-state tuition at California public universities to qualified undocumented residents in the state, offering “exemption from payment of nonresident tuition.”

In addition, the new package of bills provides low-income residents, regardless of their immigration status, eligibility for legal assistance in civil matters affecting basic human needs.

Another bill included in the package, SB 972, changes the state’s retail food code to allow street vendors to more easily get local health permits “supporting better economic inclusion and opportunity.” The bill was introduced by state Democratic Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach).

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