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Breaking News in California: Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Immigrant Driver's License Bill

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jerry brownNews report from California indicate that Governor Jerry Brown has signed AB 60, the immigrant driver’s license bill which will allow some 1.4 million immigrants in California to start driving legally in 2015.

More and more states, including New Mexico and Illinois, have begun allowing immigrants to test for and obtain a driver’s license over the years.  But finally seeing the bill become law in California is a huge victory for immigrant advocacy groups like CHIRLA, which has been fighting for such legislation since 1993; and current and former state lawmakers like Luis Alejo and Gil Cedillo, who have seen previous versions of the bill fail.

Allowing immigrants to drive in California will make roads safer, potentially curbing the number of accidents and driving down insurance premiums.  And it will help protect immigrants for being detained and deported–with their cars impounded–for nothing more than minor traffic violations.

As Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, told the Associated Press today:

This is really a historic day for California.  This is really simply about driving and ultimately about being able to engage in everyday activities that every American does.

Immigration advocates aren’t letting up the pressure on Gov. Brown yet, however.  Advocates and allies are still pressuring Brown to sign the TRUST Act, which would limit Secure Communities in California, before the signing deadline on October 13.  Even Janet Napolitano, the former DHS secretary whose old agency runs Secure Communities, endorsed the TRUST Act this week.

Advocates are also lifting up the new law in California as an example for the rest of the nation, and asking Congress to follow California’s example by passing real immigration reform for the 11 million.  As Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA said in a statement today:

Apparently it is not easy these days to be a leader, do the right thing, and take bold steps that not everyone will agree with.  Let this signature be a precursor and an unequivocal message to Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress that when lawmakers collaborate, when doing the people’s work is the expectation and not the rarest of gems, our nation is better for it.