Driver's Licenses for All? Racialized Illegality and the Implementation of Progressive Immigration Policy in California
25 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 2019
Progressive subfederal immigration policy aims to reduce the consequences of illegality for undocumented immigrants. Drawing on interviews with representatives from immigrant‐serving organizations in California, we examine the case of Assembly Bill (A.B.) 60 driver's licenses to assess whether all Californian undocumented immigrants have equal access to a driver's license. Although A.B. 60 was race‐neutral legislation, we argue that its implementation was shaped by racialized migration histories and that it reproduces racialized illegality. Specifically, the deep history of undocumented Mexican migration to California has shaped the institutional capacity of nonprofit and community organizations, foreign consulates, and the Department of Motor Vehicles to advocate for, implement, and serve A.B. 60 applicants. As a result, Spanish‐speaking, Latina/o/x immigrants, particularly those of Mexican origin, experience greater access to A.B. 60 driver's licenses. To combat this, organizations actively worked to reracialize illegality as an issue that also affects non‐Latino populations. Ultimately, we demonstrate that the construction and experience of illegality are deeply tied to race and place.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation