The state Assembly passed a bill that would allow people without a Social Security number to apply for a license. Under the measure, those people must show alternative forms of identification, including a proof of residency. They must also pass a driving test.
Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo, of Watsonville, said his bill, AB60, would increase safety on California roads, citing a Department of Motor Vehicles study that showed unlicensed drivers are nearly three times as likely to cause a crash.
Opponents said loosening the requirements on who can possess a driver's license would jeopardize other uses for the IDs.
If the bill passes, 2 million people would reportedly be eligible. The measure now moves on to the state Senate.
The legislation follows a law approved last year that allowed licenses to be issued to unauthorized immigrants who are eligible for work permits under a revised federal policy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.