California issued over half-million driver's licences under a new law that grants the identification to immigrants that may be undocumented. The move comes as immigrants throughout the US deal with immigration raids led by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
According to The Associated Press, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced on 6 January that 605,000 licences have been issued since AB60 came under effect in January 2015. California's DMV reported it received 830,000 applications for the licences.
Under AB60, immigrants who cannot prove their legal status are able to obtain driver's licenses using identification from their home countries. Applicants must also prove California residency and pass the standard written and driving exams.
News of the driver's licences comes as undocumented immigrants throughout the US live in fear of ICE raids rounding up people for deportation. In December, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would begin deporting families, particularly those from Central America, at the beginning of the year.
The New York Times reported that immigrants in New York "have been paralysed by fear" over rumours of the raids rounding up families. Undocumented immigrants have reportedly stayed home from work and refused to leave their homes over fears that a raid could happen at anytime.
California has yet to experience any raids, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on 4 January. US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said that around 120 people, particularly in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina, have been arrested during ICE raids and are in the process of being repatriated.
"This should come as no surprise. I have said publicly for months that individuals who constitute enforcement priorities, including families and unaccompanied children, will be removed," Johnson said in a memo. He added that similar raids will continue at his discretion.