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CA lawmaker: Make driver’s licenses available to more immigrants

Even though it just got easier for many immigrants to send money to their families back home, thanks to California lawmakers allowing young undocumented immigrants' to obtain drivers' licenses, a state assemblyman wants to make these licenses available to more immigrants who may currently not be eligible.

Luis Alejo, a California legislator from Salinas, recently introduced Assembly Bill 60. Among other things, if passed, the bill would enable any immigrant who can establish that they pay taxes the ability to drive lawfully, The Los Angeles Times reports. At present, the only immigrants who are granted driver's licenses are those who meet the qualifications for the Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals.

Alejo told the newspaper that he believes giving more immigrants the right to obtain a license will make the streets safer.

"Having uninsured drivers is a hazard for everyone," said Alejo. "The Safe and Responsible Driver Act improves safety on our roadways because it will ensure that immigrants that pay taxes will be eligible for a driver’s license with insurance requirements."

In every state, with the exception of New Hampshire, motorists are required to have auto insurance. Even in the Granite State, though, drivers are obligated to purchase liability coverage after their first accident.

Driver's license law in Illinois sent to governor for his signature
This news comes after legislators in the Midwest passed a bill that provides driver's licenses for most unauthorized immigrants.

On January 8, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation that clears the way for undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. The bill had already been passed by the state Senate, which narrowly approved the legislation, which enabled it to be voted by the General Assembly.

Though the bill has yet to become the official law of the land, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the legislation when it gets to his desk.

Mark Curran, a sheriff for Lake County in Illinois, indicated that he believed the legislation was necessary in order to benefit the lives of everyone within the state.

"The reality is that people need to drive in order to feed their families," said Curran, according to immigrant advocacy group National Immigration Forum. "Having drivers who are uninsured, untrained and untested comes at a high cost to all of us. This bill will ensure that all Illinois drivers have licenses, which will make our roads safer for all drivers. It is the right move."

Once the bill is signed by Quinn, immigrants who take driver's education and pass their tests will be granted licenses, which have to be renewed once every three years. It's estimated that 250,000 immigrants will likely take advantage of this new privilege, putting a quarter of a million more drivers on the state's streets.

Many legislators who at first were against the legislation wound up supporting the bill in the end. According to the Huffington Post, Dan Brady, who represents Illinois' 88th district, said that he voted for the bill because he believes it will make conditions safer for drivers who commute to work and school every day.

Lawrence Benito, CEO of Illinois' advocacy group Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said that he was delighted to see that Republicans and Democrats were able to put partisanship aside and pass a law that will make everyone better off.

"Illinois is an example of what can happen nationally," said Benito.

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