Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law here Thursday a measure that will allow undocumented immigrants to acquire a driver's license in California, the 11th state to adopt such a law.
The signing ceremony was held on the steps of the Los Angeles city hall amid an almost festive atmosphere before dozens of people who chanted in Spanish "Si se pudo" (Yes, we could) and numerous politicians and representatives of social organizations, unions, law enforcement and the Catholic Church.
"When a million people without their documents drive legally and with respect in the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice. No longer are undocumented people in the shadows," Brown said to cheers from the crowd.
There are estimated to be about 2.5 million people in California who can normalize their driving status thanks to the measure, the bill's author, Assemblyman Luis Alejo, told Efe.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has until Jan. 1, 2015, to begin giving driver's licenses to undocumented foreigners.
"In the coming months they're going to take emergency measures to prepare because they have to open additional offices and hire people," Alejo said.
The politicians agreed that Thursday was an historic day for some who have fought for decades for such a measure, including Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo.
As a state assemblyman, Cedillo twice led successful efforts to pass bills authorizing licenses for the undocumented, only to see the bills blocked by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Undocumented immigrants will not be able to use their driver's licenses as identification to seek employment or apply for public benefits. EFE