More than half a million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally obtained driver’s licenses in California last year following the implementation of the pro-immigrant law AB 60, according to the L.A. Times. Once “undocumented,” those immigrants are now on the books, allowing them to drive legally, purchase car insurance and other benefits. Supporters of the law say that it helps immigrants who are caught in the contradictory pull of labor demand and push of federal law. AB 60 has its critics, who say that immigrant driver’s licenses facilitate or even incentivize unauthorised immigration.

California has the highest population of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., as well as the highest percentage that are eligible for driver’s license. Thirteen other states currently allow immigrants in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses. The implementation of AB 60 last year let to an uptick in driver’s license applications. An estimated 605,000 of the 1.4 million driver’s licenses issued in 2015 were purchased by undocumented immigrants.

In the absence of a national consensus or even a clear policy on immigration at the federal level, the battles are being waged at the state level. In Arizona, state officials have approved new punishments for immigrants convicted of crimes. In New Mexico, the legislature is debating changes to its decade-long pro-immigrant driver’s license policy.

In Texas, the state with the second highest number of immigrants in the country illegally, officials are denying some U.S. citizens of immigrant parentage birth certificates. California has gone the opposite direction, passing laws to give unauthorised residents unprecedented protections and benefits.

That’s rubbed some Californians the wrong way. Despite expanding hours and staff at California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, many state residents say the uptick in applications led to longer waiting times. That inconvenience perturbed some citizens, who connected the state’s tolerance of undocumented immigrants to the national immigration debate.

Ann Coil Santa Ana, California resident and coordinator for the local Tea Party Patriots group told the Orange County Register that immigrants were “overloading the system.”

“There is concern in this country, and it’s reflected in this election, that there’s more compassion for people who are not citizens than those who are.”

Coil’s fellow Santa Ana resident Miriam Álvarez-Hernández, who is in the U.S. illegally, feels differently. Her day-to-day live has been radically transformed. She told the Register that she no has “peace of mind” when she leaves the house.

“Before, I used to drive only when absolutely necessary [....] I also feel more like a part of the community.”