The Corner

California to Give Drivers Licenses to Amnesty-Eligible Illegal Immigrants

Per the Los Angeles Times, California’s governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that “will let hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants qualify for California driver’s licenses.”

Young people would qualify if they are accepted by a federal program giving work permits to those who came to this country before they were 16 and are now 30 or younger.

As many as 350,000 undocumented immigrants in California may be eligible for the Obama administration program, which waives the threat of deportation for two years for those who have no criminal record. 

So, to recap: In California, those illegal immigrants who qualify for the president’s executive amnesty will be given a stay of deportation, a work permit and social security number, and a drivers license — a license that functions in almost every arena of American life as the standard government-issued ID. Put whatever spin you like on it, but this effectively renders those eligible as permanent residents. Moreover, immigration and work permits are federal, so do not be surprised if some illegals living outside of California elect to relocate there, and if those who do not relocate see fit to challenge their own states’ “right” to deny them licenses.

Governor Brown’s attitude is redolent of Obama’s:

“Gov. Brown believes the federal government should pursue comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship,” Duran said. “President Obama has recognized the unique status of these students, and making them eligible to apply for driver’s licenses is an obvious next step.’’

It’s astonishing how easily and lazily ideas are conflated when it comes to illegal immigration. (Let’s leave aside the bizarre-but-popular “undocumented immigrants” term for a moment.) Brown might well believe that the “federal government should pursue comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.” Many people do. But the federal government has done no such thing. The DREAM Act has, for better or for worse, been defeated in Congress and, in our system, that should be the end of it — whatever one’s view of the proposal’s merits. It is a desperate stretch to pretend that Brown is “adhering to the new federal rules imposed by the White House” when, in truth, he is cementing them into state law while he has a chance.

“I’m proud the governor chose public safety over the politics of the day,’’ said Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo. An interesting choice of words there; from this perspective it looks as if he did quite the opposite.


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