Politics

DMV may give undocumented immigrants drivers licenses

Thursday, August 23, 2012

California is preparing to issue hundreds of thousands of driver's licenses to young undocumented immigrants who could not apply for one before now.

President Obama created a new class of immigrants when he started the Deferred Action Program. Now, one state lawmaker says the state should give them state licenses.

Because he's undocumented, Jose Torres-Lopez cannot get a California driver's license. So, he bikes 14 miles each way to the nearest community college for classes. "It's a little bit tiresome. Sometimes, you get to school and you're a little bit tired so you don't really pay attention to teachers," he said.

The DMV, though, could change Jose's life and others in the state like him. The agency is looking at giving driver's licenses to roughly 400,000 young undocumented immigrants who've applied and are approved under President Obama's Deferred Action Program where they can stay and work in the U.S. for two years without fear of deportation.

The question is whether that's an acceptable government document to grant the privilege of driving. Assemblyman Gil Cedillo is rushing through a bill that tells the DMV that Deferred Action Immigrants do qualify for driver's licenses. The Los Angeles Democrat says it'll make the roads safer if more people are tested. "We've told these young people they can study and get scholarships. The president's told them they can work. The state department has told them they can travel abroad. We should allow them to drive," Cedillo said.

Opponents disagree. "I'm getting phone calls from people who are trying to get here and get their citizenship legally and they're saying, 'What about us? Why are people being moved to the front of the line and getting all the benefits that we're trying to get?'" said Republican Assmbleyman Dan Logue of Chico.

Torres-lopez, who hopes to transfer to UC Davis soon, would love to not worry about how to get to school. "Yes, it would be amazing," he told ABC30. "It would be just helpful and beyond anything else that's happening, it would be a relief."

Cedillo will have to hurry. All bills have to be approved by August 31.

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