Giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants: Is Jerry Brown right?
The issue of illegal immigration is suddenly back on the front-burner of California politics.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed a bill that will allow hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
It's considered a historic law and has been something illegal immigrants have sought for some time. Critics, including some Republicans in Sacramento, argued the law was not needed and that immigration issues should be handled by the federal government.
His actions followed an intense week of protests, prayer vigils and lobbying by immigrant advocacy groups.
The driver's license measure will make illegal immigrants eligible to drive legally in California if they qualify for a new federal work permit program. That Obama administration protocol allows illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16, and who are now 30 or younger and meet certain other criteria, to obtain work permits.
"Gov. Brown believes the federal government should pursue comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship," said Brown spokesman Gil Duran. "President Obama has recognized the unique status of these students, and making them eligible to apply for driver's licenses is an obvious next step."
Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), the measure's author, had been crusading for such a law since a broader measure he pushed through the Legislature in 2003 prompted a voter backlash. The earlier bill was signed into law by former Gov. Gray Davis, who was ousted from office soon afterward. Before it took effect, lawmakers repealed it.
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