Legality Does Not Change Reality

Responding to opposition of driver's licenses for all immigrants

By Alisha M. Rosas
Published on LatinoLA: December 17, 2003

Legality Does Not Change Reality

After reading an article by Gil Contreras regarding his support of "Terminating SB60" at, published on Friday, Dec. 5, I felt compelled to respond to his views on the bill that would have done nothing more than allow people who are already driving on our streets and highways daily the opportunity to do so legally.

I felt a bit sadness in his definition of Latinos/Hispanics. In his eyes, he saw us as a "bunch of whiney ass, ostrich head in the sand, anti-everything" people. In my eyes, I see diverse groups of people, who, in an effort to stir change, have decided to push the envelope on any issue concerning them -- be it supporting policy such as SB60, working on educating our youth or reaching into our communities and improving them.

Mr. Contreras mentioned the problems facing Latinos today. I agree that there is much work to be done throughout the communities we live. He mentioned that compared to the AIDS epidemic affecting Latinos, SB60 should be of miniscule concern. That is, however, a bit of an extreme comparison. To provide him with an equally extreme example, if you have AIDS and no driver's license, I'm sure the last thing on your mind is getting your car impounded for driving to your doctor's appointment. You just care about getting there.

If driving is a right for the citizens of California, it is also their right to feel safe on the highways they travel. I believe there should have been a sense of reassurance, a sense of peace in every driver on every highway had SB60 remained -- that whether one or 1,000 California Driver's Licenses were issued to people who did not have one before -- would only reaffirm that more people have taken a driving test of some kind and are "certified" to operate an automobile on the road.

As for car insurance, perhaps not all people would get insured. That is more than fair to assume. But what about the individuals who would? Do they not count? Providing more people with the option to be insured would result in some insuring themselves. Why not marvel in the potential of such an optimistic thought?

In terms of Mr. Contrera's half of half of half formula to Latino voting and how he claimed "there is no power in those numbers" ... I ask him, isn't there power in all numbers? If one vote can make difference, as our last presidential election proved, I find it ludicrous for him to claim that those of us who do vote do not make up enough of a population to make a difference. Every ballot punched and every "I Voted" sticker counts, my friend. It's the vote not cast that does not.

What he calls bad public policy, I call making legal what is already taking place. People need to drive to work to take care of their families. When our Governor killed SB60, these families, these workers, these contributors to our economy, did not say, "OK, I won't drive anymore." The response is more of a lack of options feeling -- a shrugging of the shoulders -- because regardless of their possession of a little plastic card granting them permission, they still need to drive to work, to school and to the doctor's office in the morning ... and the day after and so forth.

SB60 -- alive and well or swept under a rug -- does not change that reality.

About Alisha M. Rosas:
Alisha M. Rosas would prefer not to drive without her license, but never says never.

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