(FOX 11 / AP) California on Friday is about to become the latest, and largest, state to give illegal immigrants the right to obtain driver licenses, via a bill that's on the desk of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, awaiting his signature.
The state Assembly passed the bill 55-19 late Thursday night. That followed an earlier thumbs-up from the Senate, 28-8. Mr. Brown supports the bill and is expected to sign it into law within hours, The Associated Press reported.
Its passage would make California the 11th state granting illegal immigrants the ability to apply for licenses, AP reported. Supporters, like the governor, say it's a safety and legal issue.
"This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally," Mr. Brown said, after learning of the Assembly's passage of the bill. "Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due."
But detractors say the bill puts employers and landlords at a crossroads when it comes to complying with existing immigration laws. The driver's licenses will include a special marking that identifies the holder as ineligible for employment and voting — and that the card is for driving purposes only, AP said.
"In essence, it puts a big flag on the card that this is not for a person that is in this country legally," said Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, a Republican who opposed the bill. "So I kind of question the purpose of the bill."
The bill was supported by the insurance industry and the California Police Chiefs Association.
From Hal Eisner:
At his home in Westlake
Village, Don Rosenberg shows me a picture of his son Drew. Drew was 25 when he
died 3 years ago. His motorcycle was his way to get around. One day he was hit
by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco and Drew fell off the bike .. lost his
helmet in the crash. The way Rosenberg tells it the accident wasn't that bad,
but in an apparent effort to get away, the driver ended up rolling over Drew's
body a couple of times before crushing his abdomen.
Don Rosenberg was
outraged last night when AB-60 passed. He was still aggravated at 10 this
morning when we sat on his back patio and talked about the passage of the bill
that gives the undocumented the ability to get a special license to drive.
"Statistics show it won't make any difference" he tells me. He
alludes to the notion of why would they want to ID themselves if they are in
the country illegally anyway? He thinks the passage and the Governor's expected
signature on the bill is just politics. Pandering to unions and others he says.
While some opponents say
giving such licenses is rewarding criminal behavior Rosenberg doesn't actually
subscribe to that thought.
And, supporters? Why do
they like it? They say to get these license driving applicants would have to
learn the laws, take written and driving tests and have a chance to buy
But, you won't convince
Don Rosenberg that's a good idea.