A controversial bill gets a last-minute stamp of approval from Governor Jerry Brown.
For the past decade, California Assemblyman Gil Cedillo has been campaigning to give the state's undocumented immigrants the right to drive legally. The L.A.-area Democrat's argument has gone like this: Issuing drivers' licenses to those immigrants would enhance public safety by ensuring that they are trained and tested as drivers -- not to mention by making it more likely that they'll buy car insurance.
Tonight, Cedillo's years of work paid off -- to an extent. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 2189, which will make hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants eligible for drivers' licenses. The new law will affect not the entire population of California's undocumented immigrants, but rather the estimated 400,000 people who are expected to meet the requirements of President Obama's new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The legislation, at its most basic, clarifies a bit of bureaucratic confusion. Officials at California's DMV, the Sacramento Bee's Jim Sanders explains, have already said that Deferred Action participants would be eligible for drivers' licenses. But the state of California requires that applicants produce specific documents to obtain a license -- and those expected to be distributed by the program weren't on the state's list. So AB 2189 specifies that Deferred Action documents meet the DMV requirement to prove a person's lawful presence in the United States.