The California State Senate recently approved for the third time the Cedillo Bill ? SB60 ? which would give a driver?s license to persons without legal resident status in the United States. It is the best version presented by Senator Gilbert Cedillo.
And, for the third time, Governor Gray Davis has threatened to veto the bill if it does not contain certain requirements demanded by him to reflect changes in the internal security situation of the state and country.
Cedillo has become the expert legislator in matters of the driver?s license, nationally. His present legislation is the broadest, most fair, sensible, and beneficial of all the versions presented since his first year as a state legislator ? assemblyman ? in 1997.
This theme was the specific commitment that he made to the local electorate as a candidate, and he was rewarded with victory in a tightly contested race. Since then he has kept his word and has persisted in this struggle against all obstacles and opposition, including from his own democrat and republican colleagues, especially from the latter.
Cedillo has insisted that his bill is ?to improve the security of the state?s highways in a way that all drivers are properly registered and possess vehicle insurance against accidents.? It is known, however, that if signed into law, the requirement to prove legal residence in this country to obtain a driver?s license would be eliminated from the California vehicular code.
The argument from conservatives of both political parties, and even from some supposed liberals, since 1992 - that by denying a driver?s license to undocumented immigrants illegal immigration to California would end ? is not only nefarious but the practice of daily life demonstrates it to be false and ridiculous.
The most recent calculation of unlicensed, and even worse, uninsured drivers throughout the state now exceed two million. The number increases daily. This situation puts the public safety of the population at severe risk. When the public order obliges a growing sector of the population to live (and drive) in the shadow, not only is the security of this sector prejudiced, but public safety of all persons is endangered.
This also demonstrates the ridiculousness of a law that does not conform to the real necessities for protection of the public. The major interest of society would dictate that it is now time to change the law.
We now have lived ten years under an unjust and racist law originally proposed by democrats and imposed by a republican governor, Pete Wilson. This law opened the door to another, Proposition 187, which was roundly rejected by the Latino community as was Wilson for his role in leading the charge of the anti-immigrant movement that favored Prop. 187.
However, to add salt to the wound left by Wilson, we have a democratic governor, Gray Davis, who for five years has perpetuated the discriminatory policy of his predecessor. Now Davis threatens to again veto the Cedillo legislation, and I say that he does so at his own peril. To his threat to veto SB60, the Latino community poses its own threat to join the political forces that seek to recall Gov. Davis from office.
If Davis is not happy with the current legislative version passed by the senate he only has himself to blame for not having signed last year?s version. Even though it was not the ideal proposal desired by the immigrant community, it was crafted based on the late hour demands of Davis in order to secure his signature. Ultimately, the official labor movement repudiated the bill, turned against Cedillo, and Gov. Davis vetoed the legislation even though it was his preferred one.
There is no other sector of the electorate in California that has been as loyal to Davis as the Latino voter, who is predominantly worker and democratic. If in the past elections of 2002 the percentage of Latino voter support for his candidacy declined substantially, it was due to his disloyalty towards the voter most faithful to him. Loyalty is not paid back with disloyalty.
Nativo Vigil Lopez:
Nativo Vigil Lopez is the National Director of Hermandad Mexicana Nacional ? firstname.lastname@example.org