Undocumented Immigrants Closer to Getting Driver's Licenses - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Undocumented Immigrants Closer to Getting Driver's Licenses

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By: Dani Carlson and Kyra Jenkins

A California bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers licenses is one step closer to becoming a state law.

State senate bill 60 passed through the assembly Friday.

If the bill becomes law, legislators say the estimated 2.2 million undocumented immigrants in California will apply for one, an idea that's creating a lot of controversy.

"I think they should be able to get licenses just like everybody else," said Nicole Holland, a Fresnan who supports the bill.

"They are already committing a crime coming over here," said Albert Ratliff, a Fresnan who opposes the bill.  "I don't think anybody deserves a license until they are a citizen."

Legislators said that debate is one reason why S.B. 60 hasn't passed into law.

Senator Gilbert Cedillo, (D-Los Angeles) Senate District 22, is the bill's author.  He said he started working on it about 10 years ago.

"This isn't about immigrants, it's about highway safety," said Cedillo.

According to Cedillo's bill, about two million undocumented immigrants would be expected to apply for a driver's license within 18 months of it the law takes effect.

He said Governor Schwarzenegger needs to think about the whole picture, before he decides to sign or veto it.

"As the legislature, it's our job to make the roadways safe," said Cedillo.

"The reality is most people are going to drive whether they have a license or not because they need to work, the system is broken by not giving drivers licenses," said Camille Cook.

Cook is an immigration attorney.  She pointed out there is another benefit to the bill, which is identifying the undocumented.

"It's better to know who they are," said Cook.  "If they don't have licenses we have no idea who they are if they're not in the system."

And that's a benefit at least one Fresnan says is a good idea.

"I think it does make sense as long as they do a background check no D.U.I's and stuff," said Fresnan, Jose Navarrette.

For more information about the bill you can log onto Senator Cedillo's website.

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