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California assembly passes bill to give undocumented immigrants driver's licenses

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SACRAMENTO – The state Assembly late Thursday sent the governor a bill that would allow an estimated 400,000 undocumented immigrants to obtain California driver's licenses if they can prove that they qualify for a temporary stay under new Homeland Security rules issued in June.

Assembly Bill 2189, by Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, directs the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver's licenses to people who are not eligible for a Social Security number but who can submit substantial proof that their presence in the United States is authorized under federal law.

The proposal stems from a Jun 15, 2012, memorandum issued by the federal secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, which said that the Department of Homeland Security would defer immigration enforcement actions against undocumented immigrants for two years if they can establish that they came to the U.S. before age 16, have lived here for at least five years, are in school or have graduated from high school, have not been convicted of a serious crime and are under the age of 30.

Cedillo, who has authored several previous proposals to give undocumented immigrants California driver's licenses, said this measure "is about public safety," because it allows for individuals who are already in California to undergo a driver's test.

"This is the right thing to do," said Assemblyman Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana, who voted for the bill.

All of Cedillo's previous efforts to give undocumented immigrants driver's licenses failed except for a proposal passed in 2003, when Gov. Gray Davis signed the legislator's bill. Davis, however, was promptly recalled and the legislation was repealed by new governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Cedillo's current proposal – his last bill in the Legislature before terming out at the end of this year – may have a better chance. It passed out of the Senate on Wednesday on a 25-7 vote, with three Republicans voting for it, including Sen. Tom Harman of Huntington Beach. Also voting for the bill from Orange County was Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana.

In the Assembly on Thursday, Cedillo's bill garnered two more Republican voters, plus the vote of Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher of San Diego, who dropped out of the GOP during his failed run for mayor of that city. Still, 15 Assembly Republicans voted against the bill while another 10 abstained. The bill passed on a 55-15 vote.

"We cannot continue to undermine the rule of law," said Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-La Mesa, in a comment typical of others made by Republicans in Thursday's evening debate. "This is a federal issue that requires federal legislation."

In Assembly, only two Orange County lawmakers supported the bill, Solorio and Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, whose district includes a piece of Buena Park.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s staff would not indicate whether he would sign the bill, saying that it is his office’s policy not to comment on legislation before it reaches his desk. Brown has until the end of September to sign or veto the bill.


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They're not. I think they make making the statement that with the EAD and SSN we will have are accetable when aply for a CA DL or state ID. The states that are saying they won't issue DLs or IDs are thinking that they will be able to tell the difference between our EADs and SSNs as opposed to other immigrants who also have legal presence. It is not like outhar EADs or SSNs will have some big red mark on it that says"illegal" on it.

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