Undocumented immigrants in California will soon be able to obtain driver’s licenses after a new bill was passed by the state Legislature making it legal. Governor Jerry Brown says he will sign the bill into law.
The victory comes for supporters after years of setbacks and opposition, and many say it is long overdue. Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who authored the bill known as AB60, says that the new legislation will make roads safer.
“I think it’s imperative that all individuals regardless of who they are, where they come from, pass a test, have insurance, is regulated by the state, have a state identification card,” says Alejo. “I think it’s going to put all our communities in a much safer place.”
Governor Brown agrees, saying that it not only makes people safer, but it allows for a smoother system and lets other lawmakers know the importance of immigration reform.
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“This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally,” said Brown. “Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due.”
Those opposed, however, say that the passing of this law will do the opposite and actually make the roads less safe. Testifying against the bill was Don Rosenberg, whose son was killed by an unlicensed driver. He says that there is no proof that roads will be safer if undocumented immigrants are allowed to get driver’s licenses.
“They’re bad drivers in their countries of origin and in New Mexico, which did exactly what California is doing,” Rosenberg said. “They gave out licenses, fatalities went up, collisions went up.”
Still, supporters say that this is a step in the right direction towards safer roadways and fair treatment for all.
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“AB60 is not perfect, but it moves our state in the right direction,” said Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara. “The alternative is a status quo system that continues to penalize hardworking families with tickets, court fees and car impoundments. These families deserve better.”
The bill could allow nearly 2 million people in California to drive legally. Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill into law soon.