Rather than waiting for the weekend as originally planned, embattled California Gov. Gray Davis will sign into law a bill allowing more than 2 million illegal aliens to apply for and receive state driver’s licenses today, according to a report in a Spanish-language daily newspaper.
La Opinion reported Davis will sign the legislation at 6 p.m. local time at a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Lincoln Park, Los Angeles.
A spokesman for Davis’ office would neither confirm nor deny the governor’s intent to sign the bill Friday evening. But earlier reports said Davis hadn’t planned to sign the bill until sometime over the weekend.
“We’ve not yet set the agenda,” the spokesman, who did not identify himself, told WorldNetDaily.
Davis, a Democrat, has twice vetoed similar legislation over law-enforcement concerns, but they were reportedly addressed in newer versions of the bill that passed both Houses this week.
Davis and party leaders in the state Assembly and Senate say the law is necessary to ensure public safety. Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, who has fought for the measure for five years, said it would ensure that all drivers would be trained, tested and insured.
Immigrant-rights groups also back the measure.
“We believe everybody who drives a car should have a driver’s license. It’s better for all of us if all drivers are properly licensed and insured. It makes us all safer. Undocumented people are going to be driving, regardless if they have a license. So let’s give everybody one,” Michele Waslin, senior immigration policy analyst at the National Council of La Raza, told WorldNetDaily.
But law-enforcement sources who spoke anonymously said the safety and training argument is “bogus.”
“The California Highway Patrol and other police recognize driver’s licenses from all 50 states, as well as from Canada and Mexico,” the source told WorldNetDaily. “So why can’t Mexican illegals get a license in their own country first? Why do they have to have one from California? It’s a bogus argument.”
Reports said the new law would not take effect until January. That may give opponents enough time to reverse Davis’ signature.
La Opinion and Reuters reported Republican gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed to fight the law’s implementation if he wins the Oct. 7 recall election.
“I am an immigrant,” the Austrian-born film star, who became an American citizen in the mid-1980s, said in a statement. “I waited for 10 years to get my American citizenship and I know first-hand how immigrants who come to this country and obey the laws have struggled to achieve their dreams. I am pro-immigrant. But we should not invite fraud or undermine law enforcement.”
The San Jose Mercury News reports that among the other Republican candidates state Sen. Tom McClintock of Thousand Oaks also opposes the driver’s license legislation, while Peter Ueberroth favors it.