California License Law for Immigrants Repealed
The California State Assembly
has passed a bill that will overturn a new law that would have given driverís
licenses to undocumented immigrants by a vote of 64-9.
One week before the Assembly vote, the State Senate unanimously voted to
repeal the law.
During the California gubernatorial recall campaign, former Governor Gray Davis signed the law, even though he had previously vetoed it. Some felt he signed the law as way to attract Latino voters. After being elected into office, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger demanded that the law be repealed because it lacked strict background and identity checks to ensure that individuals were obtaining driverís licenses under false pretenses.
law, known as the Cedillo bill because it was sponsored by State Senator Gil
Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), would have allowed an undocumented immigrant to obtain
a driverís license by presenting a federal individual tax identification
number and forms of identification other than a Social Security number.
controversial bill would have repealed the requirement for applicants to prove
citizenship or legal residency, and would have allowed undocumented immigrants
to obtain licenses. Some California
Assemblymen worry that with driverís licenses, terrorists will be able to
blend into the population.
states currently do not require any proof of legal presence in the US for
driverís license applicants. However,
the fact that seven on the nineteen 9/11 hijackers had obtained Virginia
driverís licenses or state ID cards without showing proof of legal residence
has raised security concerns. They
used these forms of identification in order to board the airplanes.
Virginia has since changed its driverís license laws.
lawmakers have been under pressure from Republican activists who were
campaigning for the law to be overturned through a ballot initiative in March.
Senator Cedillo acknowledged that the bill probably would not have
survived the ballot as polls indicated that a strong majority of the general
public opposed the bill.
Schwarzenegger has promised Senator Cedillo that he will work with him next year
on another version of the bill. Schwarzenegger
has made it known that he understands the highway safety reasons to license
every driver, regardless of their immigrant status.
An estimated two million undocumented immigrants drive in California
without licenses or insurance.
However, the California Republican Assembly, who had gathered over 400,000 signatures in the past several months in order to place the bill on the March ballot if the Legislature did not repeal it, says it will continue to oppose any bill that grants licenses to illegal immigrants.
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