Thursday, September 12, 2013

Support Driver's License Legislation for Undocumented Immigrants

From Hermandad Mexicana Humanitarian Foundation:

This is an open letter to the community in regards to objections expressed of AB60, the driver's license legislation introduced by Assemblyman Luis Alejo to the California legislature as amended recently due to concerns of Gov. Jerry Brown. By way of introduction, let me say that no organization has worked on this issue harder or longer than Hermandad Mexicana, which took up the cause in 1993 (twenty years ago) when Gov. Pete Wilson signed into law the legislation proposed by Assemblyman Luis Caldera to deny the California driver's license to undocumented persons.  The Latino Democrat Caldera justified his legislation with the argument that if the Democrats did not pass this law the Republicans threatened to propose even worst legislation.  The Democrats were the majority party in the legislature at the time.  Gov. Wilson argued that by denying a license to the undocumented they would stop coming to his state.  Yes, we know where all the bodies are buried.
Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo, author of the original AB60 driver's license legislation, introduced his bill in 1997 upon replacing Caldera in Assembly District 60 at the behest of Hermandad Mexicana and other grassroots organizations.  True to his word when he sought Hermandad's support as a candidate, he has not wavered in the least not withstanding the adversity, criticism, media scrutiny, vetoes by five governors, and even unmerited ridicule by the race-baiting anti-immigrant radio DJs of Clear Channel and others.
We have endured all of the debates regarding a license for immigrants as opposed to that issued typically by DMV for all other applicants, the objections by groups from the political left and right in relation to the so-called "mark" and/or any other "distinguishing" feature contemplated or proposed.  Our bearing and reference point has always been our constituents, those who have been the object of this debate - the undocumented members of Hermandad, and generally.  And, while we too were unalterably opposed to any other type of license than that issued to the common Californian, time and circumstances have changed our view.
Today's legislation, AB60, authored by Asm Alejo has the support of Hermandad Mexicana.  The so-called "mark" and disclaimer language accepted by Alejo based on concerns observed by Gov. Brown are nearly imperceptible and do not warrant a reasonable person's opposition.  California DMV issues multiple versions of its driver's license, for example, motorcycle, tractor-trailer, under-age, etc., and each has a nearly imperceptible distinguishing feature.  The AB60 license will be just one more version.
This proposed license will most definitely put our community at much less risk than it currently experiences with law enforcement and other government agencies.  There are an estimated two (2) million unauthorized driver's in California who have been devastated for 20 years due to current law, arrested repeatedly, had their cars confiscated in the hundreds of thousands, paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and towing penalties, been deported, publicly humiliated, and made the target of unscrupulous traffickers of false licenses, insurances, international driving permits, and other schemes.  In the city of Los Angeles alone, for example, over a five-year period under the administration of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the undocumented unlicensed drivers paid $100 million in fines to the city coffers.  We labeled it the immigrant tax.  We say enough is enough!
Shame on those who seek to make the perfect the enemy of the good, and instead we say walk in the shoes of the undocumented driver.  We challenge you to cut up your driver's license and drive your car for a year, two, or more.  Risk being ticketed and your car confiscated - one, two, three, four and five times.  Subject yourself to the humiliating harangues of traffic court judges and pay the additional hefty fines imposed by the court, unjustly.  When you have done this you may be qualified to judge the "imperfections" of AB60.
Recently, we have read critiques of AB60 by some young Dreamers who oppose its passage.  There is silly irony in this position.  Here we have young people who actually signed up to authorize their own deportation deferred into the future in exchange for an "imperfect" permit, which allows them to remain in the U.S. temporarily with two-year interval renewals.  This legal permit also allows them to obtain a California driver's license.  Upon the enactment of the Deferred Action executive order, the than Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (2012) immediately intervened to encourage Gov. Brown to accept the color of law status of the DACA permit-holders for purposes of obtaining a license, and the governor ultimately concurred.  Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona decided in the opposite direction.  Now, some in the Dreamer network oppose AB60 due to its "imperfections" even though they possess the "imperfect" DACA permit, which is denied to the millions of other undocumented.
Let us work together to assure that law enforcement follows the new law to-be and not infringe on the rights of the new licensees.  As a matter of fact, law enforcement is bound to enforce the law as interpreted by legal counsel of the jurisdiction, and this is driven by the elected officeholders.  In other words, our main beef would be with the elected officials if law enforcement errs or abuses its authority when executing any law.  We are the civil guardians to assure that public officials do not violate their oath of office and uphold the state and federal constitutions.  This is the role that corresponds to us as the advocates for the change we desire.  END.
The Hermandad Mexicana Team


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