In the first full month of a new state law, California issued 59,000 driver’s licenses to undocumented applicants – more than half of all driver’s licenses issued in January.

California issued a total of 113,172 non-commercial driver’s licenses in January, a 65 percent jump in the number of licenses issued during the same period last year, according to statistics released by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Undocumented immigrants represented 52 percent of the total number of drivers who were issued a license last month. Of the 236,000 undocumented immigrants who applied for driver’s licenses, one in four were successful in obtaining them.

The law, AB 60, took effect Jan. 1 and requires the DMV to issue driver’s licenses to applicants who cannot prove lawful presences in the United States. Applicants must verify their identity and California residency based on a list of acceptable foreign and California documents. The driver’s license cards issued under the new law were approved by the Department of Homeland Security in conformance with the federal REAL ID Act. The cards are similar to regular California driver’s licenses, but “Federal Limits Apply” is printed on the front.

Twelve U.S. jurisdictions allow drivers to obtain licenses regardless of immigration status, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C.

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