California Gov. Jerry Brown has garnered both praise and disappointment from many in the Hispanic community by signing a bill allowing immigrants to receive drivers licenses, followed by a veto of the "anti-Arizona" bill.
AB2189, introduced by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, would have allowed the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants who are eligible for work permits under a new Obama administration policy. The bill requires the department to accept any document the federal government provides to participants in its deferred action program as proof of legal residency.
Claiming that the bill will make California roads safer and allow young immigrants to drive to school and to work, Cedillo issued a statement after the bill had been signed into law which said: “It is a victory for those who were brought here through no choice of their own, played by the rules, and are only asking to be included in and contribute to American society.”
The new law will affect an estimated 400,000 undocumented immigrants which are expected to meet the requirements of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program according to the Sacramento Bee.
Brown vetoed another bill which would have protected undocumented immigrants from deportation if they committed minor infractions. AB1081, dubbed "anti-Arizona" legislation, lacked the inclusion of crimes such as child abuse, drug trafficking, and weapons violations. In a statement made after the veto, Brown said the law was "fatally flawed because it omits many serious crimes." He went on to say that he promised to work with lawmakers to fix the bill's wording.
AB1081 would have allowed California to opt out of portions of a federal program that requires local law enforcement officers to check the fingerprints of arrested individuals against a federal immigration database, and detain those who are in the country illegally. If signed into law, it would have barred law enforcement officers from detaining suspects for possible deportation unless they are charged with serious or violent felonies.
Brown is a supporter of comprehensive federal immigration reform, and stated federal agents "shouldn't try to coerce local law enforcement officials into detaining people who've been picked up for minor offenses and pose no reasonable threat to their community."
Although many proponents of both bills have praised Brown for putting public safety ahead of politics in the signing of AB2189, they are angered and disappointed by the veto of AB1081.