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Featured Headline: Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants Not About Immigration

10:30 AM PDT on June 3, 2013

I don't think I've ever taken a tongue lashing in the comments section for any article or opinion piece as I did when I wrote in December of 2011 that it was past time for the State of California to license undocumented immigrants. The piece also supported LAPD Chief Charlie Beck's position that cars shouldn't be taken from undocumented drivers because they don't have a license, if the state makes it impossible for these immigrants to obtain them in the first place.

This year, A.B. 60, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, has a real chance of becoming law.

Last week, the Assembly passed legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants access to driving licenses. An editorial in today's Daily News, while not touching on the Beck issue today, basically agrees with our larger point from December 2011. Allowing undocumented immigrants access to our driver training and licensing program isn't an "immigration issue," it's a "safety issue."

No -- licenses wouldn't be "given" to immigrants any more than they're given to U.S. citizens. Everybody has to pass written and driving tests to earn licenses. This certifies that you know how to operate a vehicle and know the rules of the road, and means you can be identified after an accident.

The most important effect of allowing undocumented immigrants to go through this process is that more people who probably are driving cars and trucks anyway will be doing so safely, to the benefit of themselves, their passengers, other motorists and pedestrians.

Legislation allowing undocumented workers access to drivers licenses was once passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Gray Davis in 2003. After the issue became a hot one in the recall election, the legislature rescinded the law before it could take effect. New legislation was introduced every year by Assemblyman and Senator Gil Cedillo who was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in last month's election.

There is no timeline for when the Senate will take up the legislation.

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