California Governor, Jerry Brown, has signed and approved a new law that will impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of California residents that are undocumented immigrants. This new law, Assembly Bill 2189, will permit these immigrants to apply for a driver’s license. The bill was approved by the governor on the last day when he is allowed to sign or veto new laws that passed the Legislature and it is estimated to affect around 400,000 people.
This new bill is in line with President Obama’s reform that targets young undocumented immigrants between the ages of 16 and 31. California residents that fit this description will now be eligible to apply for a driver’s license using paperwork that has been provided through the President’s work permit program.
The author of the bill is Los Angeles Assemblyman Gil Cedillo. He has worked for 15 years in order to get this new legislation to pass. He was able to gain the support of Republican Party members by convincing them that this bill would make undocumented immigrants safer drivers. They will be able to receive proper driving training and it will also be easier for them to get car insurance.
People that will benefit from this new bill will have previously been included in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted by the US President. Under this program, certain undocumented immigrants have the right to live and find work in the United States of American without being deported for two years. It applies for immigrants between the ages of 15 and 31 that have arrived in the country when they were younger and have lived here for at least the past five years without any serious incidents. Until now, people included in the Deferred Action program were not eligible for a driver’s license but since AB 2189 will go into effect the documents they have been provided would make them eligible for such a license in the state of California.
In order to fulfill the minimum criteria provided by the law, immigrants would have to either be in school, graduated from school, obtained an equivalency certificate or received an honorable discharge from the United States military. A record with a felony or several misdemeanors would exclude them from eligibility for this program.
The bill was brought up in Legislature by Assemblyman Cedillo in the past many times, but it has been turned down. Several revisions had to be made to it until the final version was approved earlier this year and now recently by Governor Brown.
Several people still have issues with this new bill, though. Some opponents still argue that there needs to be a more thorough screening process put in place in regards to who receives a driver’s license under this new law. Currently, a license is used as proof of ID for many public purposes which some people could exploit to their own advantage.
At the same time, some criticize Gov. Brown’s actions as being nothing more than a political ploy and an attempt to garner immigrant sympathy. They point out that while he approved Assembly Bill 2189, the governor vetoed the Trust Act and the Domestic Workers Rights Bill. The first law would have offered leniency in regards to deportation for immigrants that have committed minor crimes and the second law would have provided better protection for domestic workers. Many immigrants’ rights activists are still unsatisfied with the governor’s actions, claiming that he is merely trying to cover his basis after rejecting one new law that would have been particularly beneficial to immigrants.