Skip to comments.Undocumented migrants' driver license bill advances
Posted on 09/03/2003 7:47:00 PM PDT by Yosemitest
SACRAMENTO - After an antagonistic debate colored by recall politics, the state Assembly on Tuesday approved controversial legislation to allow as many as 2 million undocumented immigrants to apply for California driver's licenses.
The Senate is expected to concur on amendments and give final approval as early as today, and Gov. Gray Davis has promised to sign it, despite having vetoed similar legislation twice before because of law enforcement concerns.
For more than two hours, lawmakers exchanged harsh words, with Republicans accusing Democrats of politicizing the bill to help the governor defeat the Oct. 7 recall and Democrats accusing Republicans of being anti-immigrant.
Supporters called the 44-30 vote a victory for the public safety of all 22 million drivers in California. Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, who has fought for the measure for five years, said it would ensure that all drivers would be trained, tested and insured.
But to the people most affected by the measure, an estimated 2 million undocumented immigrants, the vote means most may soon be driving legally to work, dropping off their children at school or getting to class.
Concepcion Lopez of San Jose, who has lived in the state for seven years, was among the dozens of immigrants cheering the passage of the bill from the balcony of the Assembly. She takes a risk every time she drives without a license to her part-time job as an arena concession-stand manager and to adult-education courses. Public transportation is not an option, she said, because it would take hours to travel just a few miles.
"It's unjust that we can't drive. Most of us are honest people who have to work to raise our kids," the 43-year-old Lopez said in Spanish. "I'm nervous every day."
But the measure drew criticism from Republicans who supported the measure in past years because they said it no longer protected against fraud and abuse.
Assemblyman Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, spoke tearfully in favor of the measure last year because it would have allowed his father to apply for a license. Not this year.
"There is no way to verify who is going to apply for a license," he said. "A criminal can come to California to get a new identity and that bothers me."
The bill, SB60, would change current state law, which requires "proof of legal presence" to obtain a driver's license. Then-Gov. Pete Wilson signed the measure in 1993.
If enacted, the revision would allow undocumented immigrants to instead use federal taxpayer identification numbers instead of Social Security numbers to apply for driver's licenses. While the Social Security Administration can verify the identity of an applicant who uses a Social Security number, the Internal Revenue Service has said that taxpayer numbers are "not valid for identification outside the tax system."
Applicants would have to provide two other forms of identification such as a passport, a birth certificate or an identification card issued by a foreign government, such as the Mexican matricula consular.
Despite concerns from some law enforcement officials, the bill's author scrapped plans to link the measure to the creation of a digital database of fingerprints that would have allowed the DMV to verify an applicant's identity. The fingerprinting system was removed to win support from Senate Democrats who had privacy concerns.
Its removal left some Republicans asking, "What are we left with?" said Assemblyman John Benoit, R-Riverside, a former law enforcement official. "There are no provisions at all to determine who this person is."
Republicans issued fresh accusations that the governor is using the issue to win support from Latino voters to help him defeat the recall.
Davis alienated Latinos when he vetoed a similar bill last year. He said he could not sign the measure without assurances that applicants had "lived and worked in California for 15 months over the last three years and passed a background check." Because of that, the Latino Caucus would not endorse him for re-election.
This year's version contains none of those safeguards but has support from some law enforcement officials, including Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton. Russ Lopez, a spokesman for the governor, said Tuesday that he still expects Davis to sign the bill.
"The governor is glad it's going to happen," Lopez said. "This is a huge population that contributes so much and they pay taxes and they already drive."
The debate delved further into recall partisanship when Republicans brought up a 1993 vote of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the only major Democrat on the ballot.
Assemblyman Bob Pacheco, R-City of Industry, accused Bustamante of flip-flopping on the issue. In 1993, Bustamante supported legislation to require applicants to provide proof of citizenship to obtain a driver's license. He now supports the bill, Pacheco said, in an effort to win support from Latino voters.
"He's buying your vote for a license," Pacheco said in Spanish, drawing loud "boos" from some bill supporters in the balcony.
Lynn Montgomery, Bustamante's chief of staff, said it was not a flip-flop. Bustamante's support for the '93 bill was strategic, Montgomery said, to slow down momentum for Proposition 187, that sought to deny certain public services to illegal immigrants.
"When 187 was gearing up there was strategy to try and slow that down," she said. "So many of the legislators voted for that bill to try and slow down the impetus for 187."
Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Tom McClintock of Thousand Oaks both oppose the driver-license legislation, and both supported Prop. 187. Peter Ueberroth, the other leading GOP candidate, supports the license bill and opposed Prop. 187.
"Su Voz, Es Su Voto. Make your voice heard on Election Day.
"Sincerely, President Bill Clinton"
Clinton letter in English.
Below that letter is a P.S. that explains: "Here is your personal Voter Identification Card. Sign your name, then detach your card. Bring your card with you to your polling place on Election Day. It will help your voting go more smoothly."
Apparently all the recipient needs to do with this Voter Identification Card is sign it to be eligible to vote. Keep in mind, this was sent to a previously unregistered voter.
Clinton letter in Spanish.
As my friend points out, only the U.S. government knows her age and pending residency status, and, obviously her Latino background. How did this information wind up in the partisan political hands of the California Democratic Party?
BILL CLINTON: I love it when a plan comes together!
Mexifornia, Mexifornia, Mexifornia......
Texico, Texico, Texico.....
F83: sword: or, drought
F84: removed: Heb. for a removing
F85: consume: or, possess
Davis has just committed a criminally negligent breach of national security
New regulations for noncitizens create run on driver's licenses(Is Your State Doing it's Part?)
The Miami Herald ^ | 12-14-01 | LESLEY CLARK, TERE FIGUERAS AND HANNAH SAMPSON
Posted on 12/14/2001 10:14 PM EST by Rome2000
TALLAHASSEE -- Swamped with immigrants rushing to obtain driver's licenses before new anti-terrorism regulations go into effect, the state Thursday hurried to immediately impose the new rules, restricting noncitizens to just four driver's license offices in South Florida.
The change created chaos across Miami-Dade and Broward counties, as confused would-be drivers traveled from one licensing office to another, trying to find the ones that handle noncitizen applications. At one point Thursday, Florida Highway Patrol troopers were summoned for crowd control.
``They were angry because they couldn't get a license on the spot,'' said Sandra Lambert, director of the driver's license division at the state Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles.
The state had been planning to enact the new restrictions next week, but quickly moved up the schedule when it became apparent that people were trying to dodge the change, Lambert said.
``We realized if we waited any longer, hundreds more old-style licenses could be issued,'' she said.
Under the new rules, noncitizens -- including those holding permanent residency ``green cards'' -- who apply for new licenses will get 30-day paper permits while their identification documents are checked. If cleared, they will be mailed licenses that expire at the same time as their visas. Also, noncitizens will no longer be able to renew their licenses or report address changes over the telephone or the Internet.
And they can no longer go to any driver's license office. Instead, they can conduct business at only two offices in Miami-Dade and two in Broward, where staffers have been trained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to recognize altered or counterfeit documents. Those offices also have been supplied with equipment so that the department can keep copies of the documents. Six other offices will accommodate noncitizens outside of South Florida.
Lambert said the department plans to add more offices to handle noncitizen applications as employees undergo training.
There are no estimates on the numbers of non-U.S. citizens in South Florida, though the figure for permanent resident aliens is believed to number in the tens of thousands in Miami-Dade and Broward. And there are about 30,000 to 40,000 Hondurans and Nicaraguans in South Florida with temporary residence and work permits that expire in July 2002.
RUN ON LICENSES
The state agency was tipped off to the run on licenses when they stocked the new application forms in the four South Florida offices on Saturday. As people learned this week that those four offices would give noncitizens only the temporary licenses, they began to flock to the other ones, Lambert said.
``People realized you had to wait to be mailed a [permanent] license at those offices, but word spread that you can get a driver's license on the spot in the other offices,'' she said. ``We had huge lines in the other offices.''
The new regulations were developed afterthe Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to make sure that Florida driver's licenses expire at the same time as foreigner's visas. The changes link the duration of driver's licenses to the expiration of visas and give driver's license officials time to check identification.
``The thinking is that if you no longer have a legal presence in the country, you no longer should be entitled to a driver's license,'' Lambert said.
But the abrupt switch created confusion.
At one of the two offices in Miami-Dade where noncitizens could get licenses, hopeful drivers stretched 40 deep out the front door, spilling into the parking lot.
``I cannot believe this, '' said Peruvian Cintia Celi, sitting in the crowded waiting room at the department's central Miami office at 901 NW 39th Ave., which along with the office at 12601 NW 42nd Ave. in Opa-locka is authorized to handle noncitizen applications.
Celi, who has lived in Coral Gables since she was a teen, had one word to sum up a day spent reinstating her license: ``Hell.''
``I went to a place by my house, and they sent me here,'' said Celi, 25. ``But they didn't tell me I had to bring papers, so I had to go back. Lines all day.''
The office received about 300 referrals from other locations Thursday, said office manager Maritza Zea. That's about twice the numbers her workers see in a typical day. Though the number of employees had been increased to handle the expected influx, there was a backlog by mid-afternoon.
``It's chaos,'' Zea said. ``Just having to make people understand what they need and why they need it.''
In Broward, at the bureau on Pembroke Road and University Drive in Pembroke Pines, lines were not as long as they were last month, according to one mother and daughter who have made three trips to the bureau in recent weeks.
``The last couple of times we were here it has been outrageous,'' said Lin Trahan of Cooper City, whose daughter Sarah, 16, was waiting to get her license.
Workers at the bureau told the two they could try other locations that serve only U.S. citizens if they wanted to avoid longer lines, but the Pembroke Pines location was the most convenient.
It wasn't convenient for Jose Benitez, a permanent resident from Nicaragua. Benitez, a mechanic, lives in Miami and traveled with friend Xilena Mariano to three different offices Thursday.
The first, on Coral Reef Drive in South Miami-Dade, didn't give licenses to noncitizens. The second, on LeJeune Road, said it was too busy, so Benitez, who has lived in the country for 17 years, went to Pembroke Pines to renew his license. ``This is very different than what we're used to,'' Mariano said.
Chinese-born Neo Mi didn't have to renew his license -- yet. He was accompanying a fellow countrywoman as she took her test at the Northwest 39th Avenue office.
``She went in there at 8 a.m.,'' he said at 3 p.m, waiting in the crowded parking lot. ``I haven't seen her since.''
In an amazing display of common sense, the State of Florida will now actually stop issuing drivers licenses to illegal aliens.
How many other States will follow suit?
And what is the Democrat position on this issue?