California on Friday is about to become the latest, and largest, state to give illegal immigrants the right to obtain driver licenses, via a bill that's on the desk of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, awaiting his signature.
The state Assembly passed the bill 55-19 late Thursday night. That followed an earlier thumbs-up from the Senate, 28-8. Mr. Brown supports the bill and is expected to sign it into law within hours, The Associated Press reported.
Its passage would make California the 11th state granting illegal immigrants the ability to apply for licenses, AP reported. Supporters, like the governor, say it's a safety and legal issue.
"This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally," Mr. Brown said, after learning of the Assembly's passage of the bill. "Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due."
But detractors say the bill puts employers and landlords at a crossroads when it comes to complying with existing immigration laws. The driver's licenses will include a special marking that identifies the holder as ineligible for employment and voting — and that the card is for driving purposes only, AP said.
"In essence, it puts a big flag on the card that this is not for a person that is in this country legally," said Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, a Republican who opposed the bill. "So I kind of question the purpose of the bill."
The bill was supported by the insurance industry and the California Police Chiefs Association.
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