SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) – California on Friday proposed requiring immigrants in the country illegally to present foreign government-issued identification to obtain a driver's license or go through an interview process using other documents to prove their identity.
The move would make the state the first in the country to offer a secondary review process for immigrants using alternate documents, such as marriage, tax and school records, California's Department of Motor Vehicles said in a statement.
Under the proposal, California would require fewer documents when those presented are very secure. An interview with a DMV investigator would be required when alternate documents are used to prevent fraud.
"We heard from individuals that they may not have the more secure documents," Kristin Triepke, policy branch chief for the DMV's license operations division, told reporters in a conference call. "That is why we are proposing to have our investigative staff provide this review."
The announcement comes as California gears up to start issuing the new licenses by January 2015. The state is one of nearly a dozen to approve driver's licenses for immigrants in the country illegally, and expects to issue about 1.4 million of the new licenses during the first three years.
California was recently dealt a blow, however, when federal Homeland Security officials rejected the proposed design for the license, saying it didn't meet national identification standards because it was not easily distinguishable from the state's standard driver's license. Since then, congressional and state lawmakers have urged federal authorities to reconsider the decision.
Earlier this year, immigrants and advocates pushed hard for California's DMV to be flexible on what documents are required to prove identity and residency for the new licenses, noting immigrants in the country illegally may have a hard time getting foreign government-issued identification such as a passport or birth certificate.
Leaders of the state's Latino Legislative Caucus on Friday said they were pleased that the proposed rules allowed applicants various ways to prove their identity.