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People who are in California illegally are now able to get driver's licenses as part of a new law that went into effect on New Year's Day.

Dozens of undocumented immigrants lined up in frigid temperatures at a DMV office in Granada Hills early Friday morning to take advantage of the new law. The Granada Hills office is among four temporary locations that were opened to handle the influx of undocumented immigrants applying for licenses.

Under AB 60, applicants must prove who they are, that they live in California and pass both the written and driving tests. A new law will also provide access to auto insurance.

Gisel Santiago of Simi Valley says being able to apply for a California driver's license is "incredibly important."

"I could drive my kids around without being worried of the police stopping me or giving me a ticket and having to pay a big amount of money," Santiago said.

New California laws taking effect in 2015

Applicants will first be issued a driver's permit and then a license. The process could take a month or longer.

DMV officials say they expect about 1.4 million undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver's license in the first three years.

The new law is aimed at making roads safer. Current Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo began working on the bill 16 years ago as a lawmaker is Sacramento. He said it is an emotional day.

"(It's) very emotional and very exciting to see that after over two decades, we're going to return to our practices that work for us in making sure that every motorist is licensed, tested and insured," Cedillo said.

But critics say the law condones living in the U.S. illegally. Don Rosenberg son was killed in 2011 when he was struck by a car and an undocumented immigrant was behind the wheel.

"The driver ran him over. If they drive more, it's just going to be more deaths," he said.

Despite the critics, supporters say the new law will make roads safer.

"This is a highway safety matter. Safety trumps legal status as far as we're concerned. That worked for us for 60 years, and now we're finally back to the same policy," Cedillo said.
Posted 3:25 PM  View Comments

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