Driver's Licenses for All? Racialized Illegality and the Implementation of Progressive Immigration Policy in California

25 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2019

See all articles by Laura E. Enriquez

Laura E. Enriquez

University of California, Irvine

Daisy Vazquez Vera

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

S. Karthick Ramakrishnan

University of California, Riverside (UCR)

Date Written: January 2019

Abstract

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

Enriquez, Laura E. and Vazquez Vera, Daisy and Ramakrishnan, S. Karthick, Driver's Licenses for All? Racialized Illegality and the Implementation of Progressive Immigration Policy in California (January 2019). Law & Policy, Vol. 41, Issue 1, pp. 34-58, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3326071 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/lapo.12121

Laura E. Enriquez (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine ( email )

P.O. Box 19556
Science Library Serials
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

Daisy Vazquez Vera

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

S. Karthick Ramakrishnan

University of California, Riverside (UCR)

900 University Avenue
Riverside, CA 92521
United States

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