The bill, which Brown signed late Sunday, lets young people qualify for licenses if they are accepted by a federal program giving work permits to immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16 and are now 30 years old or younger.
The bill makes California conform with President Barack Obama's June 15 executive action that let hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children remain in the country without fear of deportation and able to work.
"Gov. Brown believes the federal government should pursue comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship," Brown spokesman Gil Duran was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying. "President Obama has recognized the unique status of these students, and making them eligible to apply for driver's licenses is an obvious next step."
Opponents argued California should be careful in giving drivers licenses because they are used as identification for many other public purposes, including entering airline terminals, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Assembly Bill 2189, introduced by Democratic state Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo of Los Angeles, says any papers issued by the federal program are sufficient to get a license.
"I'm proud the governor chose public safety over the politics of the day," Cedillo said.