Gov. Brown signs drivers license bill for undocumented immigrants

Gov. Brown signs drivers license bill for undocumented immigrants

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday which gives million of undocumented immigrants the right to drive in California.

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AB 60 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, will grant drivers licenses to everyone who can pass the tests required by the Department of Motor Vehicles, regardless of their immigration status.

The DMV-issued driver's license will have an identifying mark on the card so it cannot be used for voter identification.

And that identifying mark is the sticking point.

Many immigrant groups and labor unions opposed AB 60, but there was nothing in the media about this opposition.

“AB 60 will have a recognizable mark on the front of the license, and the back will read: 'this card in not acceptable for federal purposes; it is acceptable for driving purposes only,” a joint memo from 10 labor unions said. The California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, SEIU, Asian Americans For Civil Rights and Equality, ACLU, California Nurses Association, Mexican American Legal Defense and Legal Fund,  California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, California Professional Firefighters, and The United Farm Workers signed the opposition memo.

The labor unions objected to the identifying mark on the ID, because it would “single out undocumented members of the community.”

The unions are right.

The identification card will also end up requiring drivers to carry auto insurance, in a de-facto way.

Once this information gets out, I don't think there will be any great rush by undocumented immigrants to get a card which clearly identifies them as in the country illegally.

Advocates for immigrant groups have pushed for the driver's license and insisted it is necessary so immigrants in the country illegally can drive without the constant fear of being pulled over for a traffic violation, and end up getting deported.

This may be, but the insurance requirement could be a problem when immigrants are pulled over for a traffic violation.

Alejo released this statement:

“I am proud to have authored a historic measure for the state of California. I want to commend the Governor for understanding the reality faced by 1.4 million unlicensed drivers who have waited for nearly two decades to have an opportunity to drive to work without fear,” Alejo said. “With AB 60 we are recognizing the needs of many hard-working immigrants living here and contributing so much to our great state. Immigrants who drive legally are more likely to work, spend and contribute to the economy. And those with driver's licenses will have more job opportunities available to them, which will boost businesses in the state.”

During committee hearings on AB 60, Alejo testified how so many illegal immigrants are forced to drive cheap cars because of the constant threat of being impounded by the police.

“This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally,” Gov. Brown said in a statement in September, after the Legislature passed AB 60. “Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due.”

This is an issue in which Gov. Brown and I can agree, but we may not agree on how.

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