States that rushed to enact legislation authorizing the issuance of driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, are seeing surprising results in the first annual reports to be released since the laws went into effect.

The California Department of Motor Vehicle Services reported that nearly 50 percent of all driver’s licenses issued in that state during calendar year 2015 went to illegal immigrants.

Of the 830,000 applications by illegals, a total of 605,000 licenses had been issued as of the end of the year, a far greater number than had been anticipated.

The California program, which began on January 1, 2015, was enacted to provide greater access to legal documentation was created by the state legislature in 2013 amid protest that it was giving illegals the same rights as Californians legally residing within the state.

It is expected to be $141 million spread over the three-year period of 2015 through 2017.

Proponents argued at the time that the program would encourage persons residing in California illegally to “come out of the shadows” to take a more responsible role in society.

Advocates claimed that denying licenses to those who drove without them prevented them from complying with mandatory insurance liability laws, but opponents see this as another move to recognize illegal immigrants as being lawfully within the United States, eroding the distinction between legal and illegal status.

Nine other states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation authorizing the issuance of driver’s licenses to applicants residing within the state illegally: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington.


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Colorado’s program, which was designed to be self-funding from additional application fees collected from illegal immigrants, has been unable to meet the demand presented by an estimated 150,000 applicants.

The state General Assembly has denied requests for additional funding for the program to expand, thus limiting the number of licensed illegals in the state.

 

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