SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Undocumented immigrants in California could soon lose their driving privileges.
A new initiative would reverse AB-60, the state law allowing undocumented drivers to apply for a license. Some Central Coast voters may be on board.
“Under the current process anybody who gets a driver's license gets signed up to vote automatically," said Greg Gandrud, a spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County Republican Party. "This results in illegal aliens being registered to vote. We need to make sure that our electoral process protects our democracy.”
AB-60 licenses don't allow undocumented immigrants to vote, however.
Richard Dydell of Central California Immigration Reform said he's not completely opposed to AB-60, but he does worry that drivers abuse its power.
“A lot of the airlines overlook the special seal on the license prohibiting [undocumented drivers] from using a driver's license to board an aircraft," he explained. "You can't do that. You gotta know who these people are.”
More than a million undocumented drivers in California have been issued a license since AB-60 took effect in 2015.
One of them is a Santa Maria mother who preferred to remain anonymous.
“If they were to take that away from us, it would be like they're amputating our feet," she said. "We wouldn't be able to go anywhere and we would not feel safe driving without a license,” said the woman.
She said losing her driving privileges would make day-to-day activities like grocery shopping, driving to work, or taking her kid to school, extremely difficult.
“Taking the bus is such a struggle. You have to pre-plan and it takes you an hour to get to a place that you can get to in 15 minutes with a car.”
But besides the direct impact it would have on thousands of undocumented drivers in California, the author of AB-60, former Assemblyman Luis Alejo, said a repeal would also hit the economy.
“It also resulted in significant numbers of people now being able to buy auto insurance, buy vehicles, rent cars...So It's also helped California's economy in the billions of dollars.”
Alejo also cited studies that say hit-and-run accidents dropped after AB-60. He added that in spite of other claims, AB-60 does not allow non-U.S citizens to vote. Alejo said the new proposal will not go through.
“There's always been a lot of different efforts to try to repeal this law. This is gonna be one of those efforts that will fail in December.”
The initiative just entered the signature-gathering stage for the 2020 ballot. It also hopes to eliminate the current sanctuary state law.