By Kevin Yamamura
kyamamura@sacbee.com
Published: Friday, Sep. 28, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Friday, Sep. 28, 2012 – 12:24 am

California voters oppose granting driver’s licenses and in-state tuition breaks to illegal immigrants, though most voters support creating a path to citizenship, according to a Field Poll released today.

The findings come as Gov. Jerry Brown is considering Assembly Bill 2189, which would allow a segment of the state’s 2.5 million illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses in California.

The Field Poll found that 56 percent of registered voters believe that illegal immigrants in California should not be able to get a driver’s license, compared with 40 percent who said they should.

AB 2189 by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, grants that possibility only to those whom the federal government has said it will not deport – residents who arrived before age 16, have not committed crimes and are less than 31 years old. The poll did not ask about that specific group.

Brown last year signed bills allowing undocumented students to receive Cal Grants and other state financial aid, with an estimated $23 million to $40 million price tag. State leaders previously enabled those students to qualify for in-state tuition if they attended high school in California.

The poll found that 61 percent of California voters believe illegal immigrants should not receive the same tuition discount at state universities that legal citizens receive.

Still, a vast majority of voters –67 percent – said they think the U.S. government should create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants rather than give them limited work status (14 percent) or deport them (13 percent).

“Voters basically think illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the country. They don’t want to uproot families,” said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. “However, voters are drawing a line and saying they shouldn’t receive the same rights and privileges as those who are legal citizens.”

Cedillo, who has spent most of his 14-year Capitol career seeking driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, said the poll results reflect how questions were phrased and a struggling economy. Cedillo wrote the bills last year extending state financial aid to those immigrants.

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