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California to allow driver's licenses for immigrants in country illegally

California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] signed a bill [text] Thursday allowing immigrants who are in the country illegally to obtain driver's licenses in California. The physical licenses will carry a distinction [press release] stating the license may be used for driving but not as federal identification. Brown predicted California's endorsement of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants will encourage [AP report] other states to enact similar measures. Most states prohibit such immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses, but a growing number, including Colorado and Oregon, allow similar marked licenses for driving purposes only. The bill is one of several immigration related measures passed by the state's legislature this year, including overtime pay for domestic workers and an effort to scale back collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials.

California has been at the forefront of a number of immigration issues. In August the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU) alleged [JURIST report] the US government uses a discriminatory national security program to screen immigrants. In October 2011 Brown signed into law [JURIST report] the California Dream Act, which expanded financial aid to undocumented immigrant students in the state. In 2010 the California Supreme Court ruled that undocumented immigrants are eligible to receive [JURIST report] in-state tuition benefits at California's public colleges and universities. Still under review by the California Supreme Court is an argument [JURIST report] that undocumented immigrants should be allowed to practice law in the US.

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