California will soon allow immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally to obtain a state driver's license -- a move supported not only by immigration rights advocates, but also by police chiefs and insurance authorities.
Governor Jerry Brown on signed the bill authorizing the policy change on Thursday in front of a cheering crowd of immigrants and their supporters. Brown predicted other parts of the country will follow the example set by the nation's most populous state.
The licenses will carry a special designation to make clear that it is not official federal identification and cannot be used to prove eligibility for employment or public benefits.
Advocates for years have argued that undocumented immigrants need to be trained and tested so that they know how to drive and are familiar with the laws of the road.
The California measure will go into effect January 1, 2015 unless the state determines it can begin issuing the licenses sooner.