On Wednesday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles said that more than 1 million undocumented immigrants have received driver’s licenses.
The Safe and Responsible Drivers Act, also known as AB 60, passed in 2015 and allowed undocumented immigrants to receive a license, leading to an initial spike of 605,000 recipients, The Sacramento Bee reported.
The law allowed immigrants to obtain licenses if they verified their identity and proved they held residence in California, where the DMV now issues about 10,000 of those licenses per month.
But in the initial year of the law’s passage, California reportedly issued 452,000 licenses without proof of residency.
Former Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who authored the bill in 2013, said in a statement that the law “has dramatically improved the lives of a million immigrants and their families.”
“Immigrants are getting tested, licensed and insured, and this is making our roads safer for everyone,” he said.
The bill was intended to enhance public safety, something a Stanford University study supported. Stanford researchers found that the policy helped reduce the probability that hit-and-run accidents would occur and even prevented California drivers from spending $3.5 million in property damage costs.
Critics have argued, however, that the law legitimizes illegal immigration. The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky said the law “makes it easier for them to use this government-issued ID for many illegal purposes, such as applying for government benefits or registering to vote.”
Wednesday’s news added to the buzz surrounding California’s relatively lax immigration enforcement. Earlier this week, the Huntington Beach City Council voted to sue the state over its sanctuary policy limiting local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
The Justice Department also announced a lawsuit last month against the entire state of California, citing three separate state laws that it said “obstruct enforcement of federal immigration law and harm public safety.”