06 Mar 2019 ICE has access to AB-60 license information, including the driver’s address
AB-60 licenses allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally in California. (Note: these licenses merely allow a person to drive legally and obtain car insurance, but do not authorize employment.) Other states have similar programs.
AB-60 licenses, which were designed to help undocumented immigrants drive legally, are now being used against them. It was recently reported that an undocumented immigrant was pulled over by ICE agents on his way to work. Those agents had a copy of his AB-60 driver’s license photo when they pulled him over, which was used to confirm his identity. (It appears he had an old deportation order issued against him in 2005, but had committed no crimes in the U.S. So, it appears the ICE agents were looking for him to enforce that old deportation order and send him back to his home country.)
What makes this troubling is that when AB- 60 driver’s licenses were first introduced in 2013, the law stated that any information would not be used “as evidence of the [person’s] citizenship or immigration status” or “as a basis for a criminal investigation, arrest or detention.” In other words, in applying for an AB-60 driver’s license, undocumented immigrants were basically promised that their information will remain confidential and not be shared with immigration authorities.
Both the DMV and ICE confirm that ICE has the ability to access driver’s license information, including the person’s photo and address. That database does not separate AB-60 driver’s license information from other driver’s licenses, and the information does not necessarily include a driver’s immigration status in the U.S. Therefore, ICE would simply enter a person’s name in the DMV database, and while the database does not indicate the person’s immigration status, their photo and address could still show up. (Remember, if you had an old deportation order, ICE would have your last address, date of birth, etc., from your immigration files.)
Several lawmakers are looking into this situation, as they believe this can now have a “chilling” effect in the immigrant communities across the state and immigrants may be less inclined to apply or renew their AB-60 licenses in the future.
I know that there are many people who are out of status, may have an old deportation/removal order, and are afraid every single day that ICE may come and pick them up. Many of these people in California have AB-60 driver’s licenses, and this new development will make them more anxious.
If this applies to you, then you may want to consider consulting with an attorney as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the knock on the door or being pulled over on your way to work, as perhaps there may be legitimate avenues for relief or ways to get a green card despite your past immigration history. While of course no guarantees can be made, rather than worrying in the dark, you should consult with an attorney, so you can see the light.
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