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California Resolves to Stand Strong in Defense of Immigrants' Personal Data

The tumult of the results of the 2016 presidential election has many immigrants worried about the future of their status in the U.S. In California, laws and protections for immigrants have been strong for decades, and state officials are voicing their resolution to keep them that way. One area of concern is state data that could potentially be mined for information about unauthorized immigrants.

AB 60 Licenses

AB-60 was a California Assembly Bill that created a law allowing undocumented immigrants to receive California driver's licenses. The law took effect on January 1, 2015. In the two years since, more than 800,000 immigrants have taken advantage of this opportunity.

An AB 60 license may be used solely for driving a non-commercial vehicle in-state. It may not be used as an ID card, nor to drive outside of the state of California. These licenses are clearly marked, and distinctive features identify holders as eligible for driving privileges (DP) only. Law enforcement is prohibited from using these licenses to detain the holder or question their legal immigration or citizenship status.

Fears About DMV Database Info

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) participates in some data-sharing systems with other law enforcement agencies. This allows the agencies to obtain some of the personal information required to get a state driver's license. This includes name, address, gender, date of birth and license number.

This shareable information is not meant to include immigration status. Despite this assurance, many immigrants fear the use of DMV database info to identify and target undocumented immigrants who hold AB 60 licenses. This is a growing fear in the face of the new presidential administration. President-elect Donald Trump has voiced his intention to deport close to 2 million people who are in the U.S. without legal status. The worry is that Mr. Trump may attempt to use the state's databases to ferret out unauthorized immigrants and send them packing.

California's Stance

Many legal experts decry any effort by the federal government to compel state governments to release their data to the feds or give up access to state databases. Such measures are unprecedented, and there is no mandate supporting this effort. Others take the stance that California's policies may be in direct violation of federal law.

California Governor Jerry Brown and other Democrat state lawmakers have been very vocal in their support of undocumented immigrants and the state laws that protect them. They have vowed to block access to their databases and to fight for the rights of the state's enormous immigrant population.

If you too are worried about potential deportation for yourself or your loved ones, the counsel of a knowledgeable California immigration attorney can be very helpful. There are many potential avenues you can explore to remain in California legally, such as DACA, HLB and perm applications. Speak to an experienced immigration lawyer to learn more.

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber