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Undocumented African clients face setbacks at DMV

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"Day 13: My morning at DMV" by Flickr user Vicky Sedgwick. Used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / cropped and resized
Image source: http://tinyurl.com/jew6koa

When it comes to undocumented immigrants applying for an AB 60 driver's license, it has been especially hard for people whose country is not on the list of countries whose nationals are approved to apply for AB 60, whose passports contain an electronic chip.

Many passports don’t have that update yet — from mostly African countries like Ethiopia, Algeria, and Cameroon. For many of the estimated 26,000 undocumented Africans in California, that’s meant going through a longer application process, and being forced to deal with their consulates — which are often uncooperative.

ADOUBOU TRAORE: We started receiving calls — Africans saying, "Oh I went there, then they said I cannot have it with my passport."

To get his driver’s license, Eko Croffie sought help from the African Advocacy Network, or AAN, in San Francisco. Director Adoubou Traore says on the DMV side, people weren't trained to be sensitive to cases from African clients: They didn't know enough about the specific policies that affected them, or their cultures. That's something he and his team are trying to address. Traore spoke with KALW's Hana Baba about the issues they have encountered in the implementation of AB 60.

Click the audio player above to listen to the complete interview.

Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.