An immigration bill recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses has sparked opposition from Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), a nonpartisan, Santa Barbara-based organization that believes population growth hurts the environment and hinders the overall quality of life in the state. AB 60 grants an undocumented person a license to drive to school or work if he or she passes the required written and road tests.
“We would prefer if Governor Brown paid more attention to get the million of Californians unemployed back to work, rather than making it possible for illegals to get driver’s licenses to get to work,” CAPS spokesperson Joe Guzzardi said. He explained that since undocumented citizens are not authorized to work in the U.S., laws to increase their ability to get to work are illogical. “It seems to be very unwise at the least,” he said.
“If I were an illegal immigrant, I would say, ‘Wow, it’s a more opportune time to come to California than in any other time in the state’s history,’” said Guzzardi. “The red carpet is rolled out.” He added poverty rates, unemployment numbers, income disparities, and overcrowded schools are indicators of problems in California. “More people means more urban sprawl and more consumption of natural resources,” Guzzardi added. “There’s a parallel between more immigration and environmental degradation.”
Proponents of the law, including Assemblymember Das Williams, believe expanding the availability of licenses will also increase the number of insured drivers on the road. “It prevents those folks from potentially losing those portions of savings every time they’re on the road,” Williams said, “even though they may be a good driver.”
Guzzardi disagrees: “The speculation that they will buy insurance is the same argument passed in New Mexico five or six years ago, and that didn’t materialize.” Nine other states in the country allow illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.
Speaking about the entire multi-bill immigration package now signed into law, Williams added: “Overall, this is trying to make sure people who, for all intents and purposes, are Californian should be a part of the community … they can take both the responsibility and the right.”
The new package of laws seeks to protect immigrants in California in several additional ways: prohibit local authorities from holding cleared suspects until Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrive; expand the definition of extortion to include a person who threatens to reveal an undocumented person’s immigration status; permit undocumented persons to become licensed attorneys; exempt qualifying part-time students attending community colleges from paying nonresident tuition; and allow the suspension or revocation of an employer’s business license if they retaliate against undocumented immigrants.