California Gov. Jerry Brown recently announced that he signed into law a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver licenses.
AB2189, helmed by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, allows the California Department of Motor Vehicles to issue drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants who are eligible to work under Obama’s new administration policy. The Department may accept as residency proof the deferred action program documentation the government provides.
Cedillo has stated that the bill will ensure safer roads, with immigrants able to commute as licensed drivers. He said the bill and Gov. Brown’s signature was a way to support public safety more than focus on politics. A Brown spokesman stated that the unique status of immigrant students made allowing them to get drivers’ licenses a sensible move.
While Gov. Brown is known for backing a comprehensive approach to federal immigration reform, and stated that federal agents should refrain from pushing local law enforcement officials to detain individuals with minor offenses, such as traffic offenses or food vending issues, he did not sign all bills across his desk; he vetoed AB1081, which was designed to protect undocumented immigrants from being deported if convicted of minor infractions. Brown stated that the list of offenses in the bill was fatally flawed, as numerous serious crimes were not included on the list.
“To date, law enforcement officials in California have processed for deportation more than 80,000 undocumented immigrants since 2009,” stated Houston immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee. “Meanwhile, less than 50 percent were convicted of serious or violent felonies.”
The “Trust Act” proposed that the state of California could “opt out” of areas of a federal program requiring local officers to run fingerprints on individuals arrested to see if they were in an immigration database, to check their immigration status, and detain them for potential deportation.
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