Two years after the implementation of AB 60 on Jan. 1, 2015, an estimated 806,000 undocumented residents have received driver's licenses, according to Department of Motor Vehicles statistics this month. About 14,000 of these licenses were issued in November alone, the DMV said.
The law has allowed undocumented residents to come out of the shadows and drive safely in their neighborhoods, according to Maricela Gutierrez, executive director of the immigration advocacy organization, SIREN.
"Many of them have been able to drive their kids to school and to run errands, when many times they were taking buses that would take them up to three hours to get from point A to point B," she said. "It opened up new opportunities."
One San Jose resident who applied for a license just a few days after AB 60 went into effect received his license in the mail shortly after.
"It's a completely different feeling because you no longer have to worry about seeing a police car," said the 46-year-old, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Ramon. "You're much more at peace when you drive. You can drive long distances with your family — to Disneyland or to the Monterey Bay Aquarium — with confidence. You don't live in fear."