The controversial California law that gives illegal aliens driver’s licenses will
likely be run off the road before many can get behind the wheel, as a variety of
foes mount legal and political challenges.
Sacramento-based public interest law firm Pacific Legal Foundation
filed a lawsuit today arguing Senate Bill 60 is “illegal” because it intrudes on
federal authority over immigration and facilitates voter registration by illegal
“A driver’s license is the most widely accepted form of identification in our
country. Anyone who has one is considered a de facto resident and usually
receives the benefits of citizenship,” said PLF attorney William S. Mount in a
statement. “Providing such a facilitating tool to persons who are not in the
country legally defies common sense. It is completely irresponsible that this
measure was passed into law in the first place.”
The key feature of the law is that it allows undocumented immigrants to
use federal taxpayer ID numbers instead of Social Security numbers to apply
for driver’s licenses, even though the Internal Revenue Service has said
taxpayer numbers are “not valid for identification outside the tax system.”
And except in limited circumstances, the law prevents the state
Department of Motor Vehicles from releasing to anyone, including federal
immigration and homeland-security authorities, information about the use of
taxpayer identification numbers by driver’s license applicants.
PLF takes issue with this restriction on information-sharing with federal
authorities. The group argues that by not sharing this information, California is
illegally shielding illegal aliens from detection and inducing them to enter or
reside in the country illegally.
“This new law threatens both our physical security and the security of our
electoral system. In this age of red, orange and yellow terrorism alerts, SB 60
flashes a dangerous green light to those who might come here with sinister
intentions,” said PLF attorney Harold Johnson.
reported similar concerns were expressed during the rancorous debate
leading up to the bill’s passage in the California Assembly in September.
Republicans accused Gov. Gray Davis of flip-flopping on the issue he had
vetoed twice before in a ploy to curry favor with Latino voters ahead of his
“Why is he willing to put the state at risk, the country at risk, the electorate
at risk? It’s his last grasp at keeping the governorship,” Assemblyman Dennis
Mountjoy said, voicing fears the bill would “open the road” to a movement to
reclaim parts of the southwestern United States for Mexico.
“Why don’t we just rescind the need for citizenship? That’s where we are
going with this,” echoed Assemblyman Doug La Malfa of Biggs.
Even Latino residents oppose the law.
”How can you reward people that are illegal here?” 57-year-old Esther
Lopez told the San Jose Mercury News. ”I’m a Mexican, but I was brought up
“America is a land of hope for immigrants – a free and prosperous nation –
because America is a land where the law is something you can count on,
something that is respected,” added Lupe Moreno of Latino Americans for
Immigration Reform. “SB 60 dangerously undermines the rule of law.”
According to an exit poll conducted by Edison/Mitofsky, 52 percent of
Latinos who voted in last month’s recall election said they were against the
The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Gil Cedillo of Los Angeles, argued it
would make the state’s roads safer since illegals who routinely drive without a
license are now required to receive proper training, testing and car insurance.
The argument persuaded the powerful insurance lobby to get behind the
In addition to the lawsuit, the law will need to surmount political challenges.
Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to make repealing the law a top
priority after he takes office.
“I’ve heard rumors about work being done to reach some compromise,”
Schwarzenegger spokesman H.D. Palmer told the Contra Costa Times. “But
the fact is he’s going to repeal this bill.”
In the meantime, conservative groups such as the California Republican
Assembly and Rescue California have already hit the streets and collected
tens of thousands of signatures to place a repeal on the March ballot, the
paper reports. They expect to easily gather the required number by the
“I’m angry that the governor and the Democrats in the state Legislature
voted to undermine my driver’s license,” California Republican Assembly
president Mike Spence told the Contra Costa Times. “And I don’t trust the
legislature that passed this to admit they were wrong and jeopardized our
Meanwhile, while a firestorm kicks up to undo the California law, efforts are
under way to pass similar laws across the country. The Illinois Senate narrowly
rejected a proposal allowing licenses for illegal immigrants last week, but
sponsors plan to bring it back for another vote.
exclusively reported the Golden State is neither unique nor alone, but that
14 other states also allow illegal aliens to drive legally on their highways.
While many of those states – Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana,
Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island,
Tennessee, Utah, Washington and West Virginia – have had such laws in
place for some time, they have become increasingly scrutinized since the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, say analysts with the Federation for American Immigration
“Some states have since tightened their rules” regulating driver’s licenses
for illegal aliens, David Ray, a spokesman for FAIR, told WorldNetDaily.
But, he continued, “the problem is there has been a complete lack of
leadership on behalf of the federal government in issuing guidelines for what
states need to do in the issuance of driver’s licenses to ensure illegal aliens
don’t have access to them.”
behind the wheel
illegals to drive
Related special offers: