Licenses for illegal immigrants again sought in California

| 1/4/2006

A California state lawmaker will once again renew his push to allow illegal immigrants to obtain licenses that could be used only for driving.

Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, said he believes this may be the year the bill is signed into law.

“The dynamics have changed dramatically, and in our favor,” Cedillo told The Sacramento Bee.

Cedillo, who said allowing illegal immigrants to receive proper driver’s training, testing and insurance would make roadways safer, said the bill would be similar to one vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October 2005.

Since then, Cedillo said the state’s political scene has shifted significantly. Among the examples cited were Schwarzenegger’s four government reform proposals that were defeated by voters in November.

The vetoed bill – SB60 – called for creating special driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants that look different than licenses for U.S. citizens and legal aliens. The version for illegal immigrants would not be valid for identification or purposes other than while driving.

In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said the effort “is premature and could undermine national security efforts to identify individuals who pose enormous risk to the safety of Californians.”

Schwarzenegger, who vetoed a similar bill in 2004, said all along he would reject any driver’s license legislation sent to him before the federal government issues new guidelines intended to prevent terrorists from gaining access to state-issued licenses. Those regulations are expected next year.

The governor said “once the federal rule making is finalized, it would be appropriate to engage in discussions relating to implementation of the act, including whether or not a driving only certificate is appropriate” in the state.

Cedillo is expected to introduce his latest effort during the legislative session that began Wednesday, Jan. 4.