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California May Grant Illegal Aliens Driver's Licenses

california-flag-bear.jpgSeptember 15, 2008
FAIR - The California state legislature has passed a bill that would allow illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses. Sponsored by Senator Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), the California REAL ID Act of 2007 (S.B. 60) passed the state assembly on Friday, August 29th and is currently being considered by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. (KMPH, August 31, 2008; S.B. 60)

 

According to Senator Cedillo's website, S.B. 60 attempts to conform California law with the Federal REAL ID act of 2005. REAL ID requires the states to "retool their system[s] of issuing driver's license[s] to ensure uniformity among all states and greater security regarding both the license itself and the identity of the person to whom it is issued." (Senator Gilbert Cedillo's Fact Sheet on S.B. 60) S.B. 60 attempts to satisfy this mandate by creating two separate categories of driver's licenses. The first category enables California to meet the minimum document design, security, and issuance requirements set forth in REAL ID so that the driver has a federally recognized license. These licenses would meet minimum requirements under REAL ID, including ensuring that the document: is manufactured in a secure facility; has security features designed to prevent counterfeiting; and contains certain basic information. To apply for licenses in this category, Californians would need to meet the minimum identity requirements laid out in REAL ID, including verification of legal presence. (Id.; S.B. 60)

The second driver's license category created by the bill, however, is more controversial. (KMPH, August 31, 2008) S.B. 60 creates a "'driving only license' that is not recognized by the federal government for identification purposes." (Senator Gilbert Cedillo's Fact Sheet on S.B. 60; S.B. 60) This license may not be used by any federal agency for federal identification or for any other official purpose. Licenses in this category would be available to individuals who cannot meet the minimum identity requirements that would allow them to obtain a license in the first category. (Id.) If the bill is signed into law, state legislators estimate that 2.2 million illegal aliens residing in California would apply for these special licenses. (KMPH, August 31, 2008)

Schwarzenegger has vetoed legislation similar to S.B. 60 in the past. On October 7, 2005, the Governor stopped another Cedillo-sponsored bill that was "similar" to S.B. 60. (Senator Gilbert Cedillo's History of the Driver's License Bill) Schwarzenegger also vetoed a comparable Cedillo bill on September 28, 2006. (Id.)

California stopped issuing driver's licenses to individuals who could not prove legal residency in 1993. A document on Cedillo's website maintains that "persons who can not show proof of legal residency currently drive on [California] roadways without being tested, licensed, or insured." (Senator Gilbert Cedillo's Fact Sheet on S.B. 60) Cedillo's legislation would give the approximately 2.2 million illegal aliens residing in California 18 months after the bill's passage to apply for the 'driving only license.' (S.B. 60) Speaking on S.B. 60, Senator Cedillo told KMPH, "This isn't about immigrants, it's about highway safety." (KMPH, August 31, 2008) However, the bill also contains a provision that prohibits police from arresting or detaining individuals for driving without a license. (S.B. 60, Sec.6(a))
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 The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation's immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest. FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest-more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.

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