Assemblymembers Reggie Jones-Sawyer (File photo)

Assemblymembers Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles), Assemblymember Mark Stone (Monterey Bay), Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas), and Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson), have jointly authored AB 1766 that will expand California Identification Card (CA ID) eligibility to all Californians, regardless of their immigration status. If enacted, California will be the first state in the nation to allow people who are undocumented to obtain a non-license, standard identification card.

“This bill brings equity to those who have been unable to access basic life essentials because they have no legally recognized identification,” said Jones-Sawyer. “What many of us take for granted – having an ID – will have life-changing ramifications for many in the immigrant and disabled communities.”

Identification cards are passports to economic and societal participation. IDs allow one to open a bank account, obtain benefits, access healthcare, secure housing and employment, and much more. Currently, people who are undocumented are able to obtain a restricted driver’s license through AB 60 (Alejo, 2013) but are ineligible for a California ID.

“Lack of identification is one of the largest barriers to success into the community because IDs are essential to securing employment, housing, and social services,” said Stone. “AB 1766 is an essential gateway to social inclusion and should be a basic necessity that every resident has access to.”

If a person does not have meaningful access to a car or have the ability to take a driving test, they are rendered ineligible for a government-issued ID. They can rely on gym memberships or college/university IDs if they have access to those institutions. Otherwise, they can use a passport or consulate ID to corroborate their identities, however, this is an often risky “outing” process for those who are not legally present in the United States.

Individuals with mobility issues, disabilities such as epilepsy, and those who are older and develop degenerative eye, muscular, or cognitive diseases are not able to obtain driver’s licenses and thus, do not have access to a state government-issued ID.

Additionally, undocumented people leaving incarceration are also unable to obtain an original AB 60 driver’s license because they cannot access a driving test in prison. Under this bill, California ID eligibility will be expanded to approximately 1.6 million undocumented people.

AB 1766 is waiting to be referred.