Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill Giving Immigrants Driver’s Licenses - New York News

Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill Giving Immigrants Driver’s Licenses

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Los Angeles, CA -

"What can you say after 20 years?" City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, addressing the crowd at L.A. City hall, where governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain California driver licenses.

Cedillo, a former Democratic state lawmaker, had proposed the bill 9 times, earning him the nickname "one Bill Gill".

After years of failures, AB 60 would have been delayed yet again, if not for last minute maneuvers during the latest legislative session...

What does it mean?

For Gabriel Zamora, who has a job, a car, and no papers : "a lot" he says, explaining he was already paying for insurance, but was afraid every time he got behind the wheel of the car, fearing higher ticket prices, at worst, deportation.

Those supporting the bill say the law will benefit everyone by making the roads safer.

At a DMV office in culver city, reaction was definitely mixed... Several people say it's unfair to give benefits to people who are here "against the law". Others  counter with, "they are here already!"

The law is expected to spur three quarters of a million new applications, a year. While the start date is supposed to be in 2015, the governor can move up that date.

California joins nine other states that allow immigrants here illegally, to drive legally. Other states like Arizona, recently widened its ban on licenses for those here without proper documentation.

Discussion continues as to the exact design of the licenses. Under federal law, they must show that the bearer has not presented a birth certificate or social security number to obtain it.

That will probably translate into the letters DP, for "drivers privilege" somewhere on the card, vs the mark DL for the traditional driver license.

 


 

(FOX 11 / AP) Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday adding California to the growing list of states allowing immigrants living in the country illegally to obtain driver's licenses.

Immigrant advocates have long lobbied for the change in the nation's most populous state. The licenses would carry a distinction on the front of the card that states the document may be used for driving, not as federal identification.

Several immigrant advocates initially raised concerns that the marker will contribute to racial profiling. The bill includes protections against discrimination.

Brown predicted that California's endorsement of driver's licenses for immigrants will mean more states will follow.

"This is only the first step," he told a cheering crowd at the signing ceremony outside City Hall in Los Angeles. "When a million people without their documents drive legally and with respect in the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice. No longer are undocumented people in the shadows."

Brown was scheduled to repeat the signing later in Fresno, the heart of the vast Central Valley agricultural region.

State and local officials touted the importance of getting immigrants properly trained and tested so they know how to drive and know traffic rules in California.

"That's what this bill is about, making the streets of this state safer," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told the crowd.

Over the last two decades, immigrant advocates have pushed to get licenses restored in California. The effort took on added significance in recent years as immigrants caught driving without a license began seeing their cars impounded and wound up being screened by federal immigration authorities for deportation.

Most states don't allow immigrants in the country illegally to obtain licenses. But a growing number, including Colorado and Oregon, have passed similar measures to issue marked licenses for driving purposes only.

In California, the bill authored by Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo would grant licenses to anyone who passes written and road tests, regardless of immigration status.

State officials estimate 1.4 million drivers will apply for licenses under the law, which was supported by the state's Police Chiefs Association and insurance authorities.

It isn't clear whether entities like local government offices, libraries or banks will accept the license as a form of identification. The licenses are expected to be issued starting in Jan. 2015.

It isn't the first time the California legislature passed a measure giving licenses to immigrants in the country illegally. Led by former Democratic state lawmaker and current Los Angeles city councilman Gil Cedillo, the legislature passed license bills that were struck down by Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Under Brown, immigrant advocates saw a new opportunity to get a bill signed. The bill is one of several immigrant-friendly measures passed by the legislature this year, including overtime pay for domestic workers and an effort to scale back collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials.

Brown has enjoyed strong support among Latino voters, whose numbers are growing in California, and appears to sense how the broader public has become more welcoming toward immigrants even as the debate over an immigration overhaul has stalled in Congress, said Jaime Regalado, emeritus professor of political science at California State University, Los Angeles.

On the steps of City Hall, scores of immigrant rights activists and state and local officials chanted "champion" in Spanish at the mention of his name. In his speech, Brown urged lawmakers in Washington to move forward on more sweeping immigration reform.

Ismael Salvador, a 63-year-old factory worker from El Salvador, turned out to see the bill signing. He said the change will radically alter the lives of his two daughters who are in the country illegally. One risks driving every morning to her job as a lunch truck cook, and the other cleans houses and relies on rides because she is afraid to get behind the wheel.

 


 

From Hal Eisner:

It's 6:30am. A group of people representing immigrant rights groups are flanked around reporters from Spanish Speaking TV trying to come down to LA City Hall and help celebrate the signing of AB60. Three hours later the south lawn at City Hall is packed with people. All here to see Governor Jerry Brown sign the bill allowing undocumented immigrants to have drivers licenses in California. There's a long history over this issue. It has been polarizing. And, event though Governor Brown has signed the bill into law some have suggested it could be challenged in court.

Your California driver's license has the letters DL on it for "drivers license" and the new ones have DP for "driving privilege". The new ones have a statement on the back that the DP license can not be used as a federal identification card.

The bill says the new law must go into effect in January of 2014. It also states if DMV can get the project in order before that they may start sooner.

Before dawn I met with State Senator Kevin de Leon in Burbank. He called what was happening a "win-win-win" in California. He also said this is a "historic day". At the signing ceremony Gov. Brown and others said the same thing.

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