Calif. Bill Allowing Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants Comes With Cautions
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Aired 9/17/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Lorena Gonzalez, Democratic San Diego Assemblymember, District 80
Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director, Alliance San Diego
California legislators have approved a bill to allow people who are here illegally to get driver's licenses.
Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it into law, but the bill has some unlikely opponents.
A number of immigrant rights groups are against the provision in the bill that makes driver's licenses look differently. They said that those differences are a red flag telling everyone the holder of the license is in the U.S. illegally.
Andrea Guerrero, executive director for Alliance San Diego, said licenses are needed for all drivers on the road, but using markings to distinsuigh people for purposes not related to driving is mean-spirited and divisive.
Nine states and the District of Columbia offer driver's licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally. Guerrero said Washington state and New Mexico issue licenses for all drivers without the distinguishing markings.
Assebmlywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) voted for AB 60, which approved the marked driver's licenses for those who are living here illegally.
"With only broken immigration laws on the books, Californians are driving without licenses and without insurance. That isn't safe for anyone," Gonzalez said in an emailed statement.
"Passing AB 60 was important because we can't wait on the Republicans in Congress to help our neighbors and families [sic] members safely drive their kids to school or themselves to work, and we can't continue to block everyone else from the peace of mind that drivers on our roads and streets have passed the driving tests, know our traffic laws, and carry auto insurance," Gonzalez said.
Alliance San Diego's Guerrero said, "The public needs to understand is that this license doesn't protect you against immigration enforcement. It doesn't protect you from someone from calling Border Patrol."
She said, "The community should proceed with caution."
Guerrero said it's a personal decision for people to get a license, but she recommends if people do get one that they only use it for the purpose of driving or getting insurance ,and never for the purpose of identification.
She said the protections in the bill against employment and housing discrimination are meaningless if you've already been deported.