Valley reaction to driver license for undocumented immigrants

September 13, 2013 4:47:41 PM PDT
A controversial late-night vote in the state capitol may soon have undocumented immigrants driving legally on state roads. After years of debate, on Thursday, the state legislature approved giving driver licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Amanda Corona drives to work every day ? making living selling tacos. But there's one problem, she's an undocumented immigrant and is not licensed to drive. "It's a necessity to drive to take my grandkids to school, go to church and to work," said Corona. Corona said she's always scared she may be pulled over but it's a risk she takes.

Those fears may subside for her and an estimated 2 million undocumented immigrants that will be eligible to obtain a state driver license.

In a late-night session Thursday, the legislature reached a deal now on the governor's desk. "They are here, they are working here. They have their family here, so why not," asked Leonel Flores, an immigration rights advocate. Supporters say giving a license to undocumented immigrants will make the roads safer but opponents say it only complicates matters.

"I'm not sure there is ample evidence that this is going to actually create a safer environment. But what it will do is create all kinds of uncertainty and ambiguity with respect to identity," said Assembly member Jim Patterson, (R) Fresno. Patterson voted against the measure on grounds that the license issued to undocumented drivers will look different. "What you're seeing are a lot of these little fixes around the edges that create this driver's license that is a card that identifies the holder as illegal and sets up a horrible set of circumstances for an employer who decides either to obey state law and employ them. They would be breaking the law," said Patterson.

But supporters say the card will only be used for driving privileges, not for employment or voting. A driver license that Corona says she needs to give her confidence while on the road.

Once signed, the law will go into effect January 1, 2015. The governor is already on record saying he will go ahead and sign the bill into law ? sending a message to Washington that comprehensive immigration reform is need.

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