Hueso’s Proposal for an Enhanced Driver’s License Program Clears Senate Committee

May 01, 2013

Hueso’s Proposal for an Enhanced Driver’s License Program Clears Senate Committee

Draft legislation touts economic benefits of projected expedited border crossings

Sacramento, Calif. (April 30, 2013) – The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee has approved Senator Ben Hueso’s (D-San Diego) bill, SB 397,  which allows for the creation of an Enhanced Driver’s License issued by the state of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Enhanced Driver’s Licenses can provide a significant economic benefit to the state of California, while strengthening border security,” said Hueso. “They will greatly reduce wait times at the border thereby incentivizing economic development in our border region.”

The EDL is a standard driver’s license that can also be used as a cross-border travel document to enter the U.S. by land and sea.  It securely denotes both identity and citizenship, per the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Participation in this program would be voluntary. The states of Michigan, New York, Vermont and Washington have implemented this program successfully.

Each year, 45 million vehicle passengers and 15 million pedestrians cross the border into California from the six ports of entry -- San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Tecate, Calexico, Calexico East and Andrade.  In San Ysidro, the busiest port of entry in the world, an astounding 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians are processed into the U.S. each day.  At today’s average wait time of 70 minutes, more than 8 million trips are lost due to congestion.  This is a loss of nearly $1.3 billion in revenues, three million potential working hours, 35,000 jobs and $42 million in wages annually in the San Diego region alone. 

“There is an urgent economic need to responsibly expedite the movement of people across the California/Mexico border,” added Hueso. “California’s economy will be the primary beneficiary of EDL’s with this expedited travel.”

EDL’s will help decrease border wait times by at least 30 minutes and encourage people to travel from Mexico into California using CBP’s “Ready Lanes”.  As more travelers obtain RFID-enabled travel documents, CBP converts more vehicle lanes into “Ready Lanes”. 

Senator Ben Hueso represents the 40th Senate District, which includes the cities of Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach, Coronado a portion of the City of San Diego, Imperial County, and the southern part of Riverside.

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For more information, please contact: Paola Avila,  619-409-7690