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California lawmaker pushes driver's licenses for more illegal immigrants

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A week after California began issuing driver’s licenses to a select group of young illegal immigrants, a state lawmaker has proposed that licenses be provided to many others who are unlawfully in the country.

A new state  law that took effect Jan. 1 allows driver's licenses to be issued to those given a work permit as part of an Obama administration program that suspends deportation for many people who arrived illegally as children.

Now, Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D- Salinas) has introduced AB 60, which would provide California driver's licenses to anyone who can show they pay taxes, regardless of their immigration status.

Alejo estimates there are up to a million illegal immigrants who are driving without licenses and thus many are on the road without proper training, testing or insurance. His bill would allow licenses if someone provides the Department of Motor Vehicles with a federal individual taxpayer identification number or other document deemed proof of paying taxes.

"Having uninsured drivers is a hazard for everyone," Alejo said. "The Safe and Responsible Driver Act improves safety on our roadways because it will ensure that immigrants that pay taxes will be eligible for a driver’s license with insurance requirements."

Gov. Jerry Brown signed last year’s bill, citing "the unique status of these students," but has voiced concerns about providing licenses to all illegal immigrants.

The legislation is opposed by Barbara Coe, president of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform. She worries that driver's licenses will allow illegal immigrants to access other services and rights available to U.S. citizens. "I do not support rewarding lawbreakers in any shape or form," Coe said.

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: A lawmaker wants more illegal immigrants to be eligible for driver's licenses. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

 
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