Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 – 7:14 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 – 11:06 pm

On the final night of the 2013 legislative session last week, lawmakers passed a landmark bill to allow illegal immigrants – perhaps as many as 1.4 million – to obtain California driver’s licenses.

One provision of the bill almost blocked action.

Labor unions and some other groups objected to a requirement that the new licenses carry what a staff analysis calls “a recognizable feature on the front of the card, such as the letters ‘DP,’” that would differentiate them from licenses of drivers who are legal residents of the state.

The bill also says a license must declare that it cannot be used for official federal purposes, such as flying, and “does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration or public benefits.”

Critics of that provision said it could lead to discrimination against those who obtain the licenses, even though other language in the bill specifically says that the licenses cannot be used for criminal investigations and prohibits employers and others from discriminating against license holders.

Despite those objections, the bill was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown, who had indicated in advance that he would sign it. Thus, beginning in 2015, illegal immigrants who otherwise qualify by passing tests and providing proof of insurance can legally drive.

A day after the bill’s passage, the Wall Street Journal published a lengthy article about a new federal crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

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