Since 1993, undocumented immigrants can no longer apply for CA driver’s licenses. But with the Obama Administration’s deferred action policy, there’s renewed interest and effort to increase the rights and privileges of undocumented workers. CA Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-L.A.) introduced legislation on Friday to make immigrants on deferred status eligible for a CA driver’s license.
Under AB2189, those under the age of 31 who qualify for a federal work permit can obtain a driver’s license. Assemblyman Cedillo, who terms out of office this year, introduced a variant of this bill 8 times previously. Each time Republicans and other conservative groups fought and defeated it. Now, in addition to the President’s policy, Cedillo has the support of the Southern California Immigration Coalition and Hermandad Mexicana to pass this bill. “Since they are here legally [on deferred status], and we let them go to school with scholarships and we let them work here and live here…we should let them drive legally,” says Cedillo.
In Los Angeles, a car is a necessity for most workers. Our public transportation system is inefficient or non-existent in many areas, particularly where immigrants tend to reside. Without driver’s licenses, many immigrants lose the ability to commute to work outside of their communities—neighborhoods that might already be starved of job opportunities.
The ability to drive is not relevant to one’s documentation status. It is, however, often related to the ability to be a part of the workforce. It’s great to see Assemblymen Cedillo continue the fight to fully include immigrants in the workforce.