The day began apprehensively for both DMV officials and thousands of undocumented immigrants who planned to apply for drivers licenses for the first time Friday.
Under the newly-enacted Assembly Bill 60, immigrants could apply for licenses without proof of citizenship and without the fear of deportation.
The Sacramento DMV office was more crowded than usual but officials were satisfied with the way applicants were processed following months of preparation. Nine hundred extra workers were hired to take care of the estimated 1.4 million undocumented applicants who are expected over the next three years.
Jennifer Valle was helping her mother and brother apply for licenses. Her mother has been studying for the written exam for a month, which can be taken in Spanish. Valle said they were happy to be able to drive legally and after being warned by other family members.
“'They’re going to pull you over and you’ll have to go the Mexico and what are you going to do with the children,' so now she’s happy. It’s really good,” said Valle.
“Things have been moving very smoothly statewide. We’ve done a lot of preparation which is looking to be paying off right now,” DMV spokesman Jaime Garza said.
The DMV says besides opening four large processing centers for AB60 applicants, some offices will begin opening on certain Saturdays and extending their hours. In addition, all new drivers license applicants must make an appointment.
Those with other DMV business will be on a separate appointments calendar to eliminate delays.
Some customers had to wait two hours after arriving at mid-morning without an appointment. Others couldn’t believe the lines weren’t longer.
Martin Castro was sitting patiently to get to a counter but wasn’t upset with the undocumented applicants. His parents came from Mexico and he says there are too many accidents caused by people who aren’t licensed.
“There are lot of people who do drive around uninsured and they’re not licensed and they generally flee the scene and we people who are insured and licensed are the ones who get penalized,” said Castro.