(California, USA) – Governor Jerry Brown has announced that he will sign the driver’s license bill (AB-60) into law at a ceremony in Los Angeles this Thursday, October 3, 2013. The public is invited to attend. Introduced by Assembly member Luis Alejo, AB60 grants driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and other people who may qualify due to immigration limbo.
This is one of the most important immigrant rights victory in California, and it will be happening exactly 20 years after then Governor Pete Wilson signed into law a bill that did the opposite: SB-976 by Senator Alfred Alquist, required undocumented immigrants and others to present proof of legal residency in the United States. The law became effective on January 1, 1994.
For the last 2 decades several legislators fought against the bill, including former senators Martha Escutia and Hilda Solis, but it was former California legislator Gil Cedillo, currently a Los Angeles Councilmember, who took the driver’s license bill as one of his main causes, introducing several AB60 and SB60 measures that ended up vetoed by several governors including Arnold Schwarzenegger. At their core, the measures were similar in purpose to the current AB60, but their content varied according to what was going on a particular year. For instance, many provisions of the bills transformed into strict requirements after September 11.
“I was asked to carry on this fight and am proud I did, as I know it has been affecting the lives of millions of people across California. Now they will be able to drive safely and without fear,” Alejo commented.
“This victory is due to the hard work of the people who participated in marches and protests, the very grassroots organizers who for years worked on this and who always and unconditionally supported our efforts,” Cedillo said.
Nativo Lopez, the founder of Hermandad Mexicana who also is credited as one of the stronger supporters of the driver’s license bill from the beginning, said:
“With this signing we are sending a strong message to Washington and to the groups who did not believe in the importance of the driver’s license bill. We are showing them that our immigrant community deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, that we are paying attention to their needs, and that our state is taking care of our vast immigrant community, while they have put immigration reform on the side, as usual.”
Before This year’s AB60 turning victorious, a moment of hesitation and the possibility of putting it on hold took place in the legislature, but the Latino Caucus and other supporters acted promptly, lead by Senator Kevin de León, with support from Speaker of the Assembly John Perez.
The new law will become effective no later than January 2015.