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Brown signs bill allowing illegal immigrants drivers licenses

Brianda Sanchez, Video Director

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Undocumented students in California who qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) will now be able to apply for drivers licenses under new state legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill, Assembly Bill 2189, was presented by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) and signed by Brown on Sept. 30. AB 2189 will require the Department of Motor Vehicles to accept a federal issued document as proof of residence for those who qualify under DACA, a federal immigration relief program.

“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,” Cedillo said in a press release.

Miguel Montalva, a community organizer for the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition and an immigrant who benefits from the recent legislation, said he feels a sense of relief as he and others will now be on the road legally.

“Four or five years ago, no one would want to face immigration issues publicly, but now we have all come together and will continue to do so,” Montalva said.

The legislation applies to undocumented individuals between the ages of 15 and 31 who came to the United States before they turned 16. In order to qualify for a license, these individuals must have a GED, and cannot have committed a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors.

The LBIRC has held workshops to inform students and their families of what documentation is required to qualify for a license, the application fee and an opportunity to speak to a lawyer at no cost, according to Laura Merryfield, a community organizer for the group.

“We have helped students with their paperwork and will continue to do so,” Merryfield said.

She said more workshops will be provided in the future.

Julio Salgado, a Cal State Long Beach alumnus, said he was not surprised by the legislation. He that it was clear to him that young immigrants would qualify to receive a drivers license, but he was disappointed when the governor did not sign AB 1081 into effect.

The same day that Brown signed AB 2189, he also vetoed AB 1081, also known as the Trust Act. The legislation would have prohibited local enforcement agencies from holding those they have detained and turning them over to federal immigration.

Montalva said that undocumented immigrants still feared being arrested, but this has changed throughout the years. He said illegal immigrants still worry about being deported but are not afraid to put pressure on the government to allow them to stay in a country in which they grew up and call home.

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1250 Bellflower Blvd. Long Beach, CA 90840 -- LA-4 201  --  (562) 985-8000.
Brown signs bill allowing illegal immigrants drivers licenses