Phil Matier: Undocumented Immigrants Driver License Bill Approved With Conditions
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)—The recently approved bill, AB60, allowing undocumented immigrants in California to get driver’s licenses includes a requirement that the new licenses carry a feature distinguishing them from those for legal residents and that has some concerned that people who get the new licenses could be discriminated against.
There are number of things however that you can’t use the new license for—including identification from getting on a plane.
Through the years, the terms have changed: legal aliens, illegal immigrant, undocumented immigrants and now it’s unauthorized immigrants. But to be clear, this is about people from another country who don’t have a legal right to be here and after that it becomes very political.
This bill has gone back and forth for years in Sacramento. As a matter of fact its original sponsor was Gil Cedillo, a lawmaker from Southern California who was nicknamed “One Bill Gil” because he kept bringing it up and it kept going nowhere.
It caused big rows in Sacramento and became the subject for radio talk programs. For many, the idea of issuing driver’s licenses was the first step that would lead to social security, food stamps and continue up the chain.
Gov. Brown said that he would sign the bill under the condition that it clearly states that it’s for someone that doesn’t have an ID—it must have some kind of marking on it to make it distinct. Reluctantly, immigrant and labor groups went along with that and signed it creating a Catch-22 because using it can raise a red flag. You might have a driver’s license now but you can’t use for the federal matter, air travel, and you can’t use it to show to an employer.
An employer knowingly hires an unauthorized immigrant—or whatever term you want to use—is breaking federal law. At the point, it’s up to the employer who needs to ask for other documentation to prove eligibility.
Currently there are people out there right now that don’t have a driver’s license or they have a fake one. So the question is: who is going to get them? And the answer is someone who’s already working.
On the other hand, in order to get a license, you have to have proof of insurance. So whether you agree with this or not, there are people driving on the state’s roads who are unauthorized and would now, at least, have to be insured.
The bottom line is that AB60’s supporters got the bill but it’s not necessarily the one that they intended.
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