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Assemblyman Makes 8th Push To License Undocumented Drivers

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — For Gil Cedillo, the eighth time could be a charm.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports the termed-out state Assemblyman is making one last try to help illegal immigrants get California driver’s licenses.

Cedillo will introduce legislation this week to allow driver’s licenses for undocumented migrants and immigrants — his eighth such attempt since he was first elected to the Assembly in 1998.

David Cid, a Boyle Heights resident, is behind Cedillo’s initiative.

“The lack of licenses has created a criminalization of our people, of our community, and we say we’ve had enough,” he said.

“Pay attention to the facts,” said Alessandro Negrete, who is an undocumented immigrant. “This is a way to keep people accountable for their actions.”

The move comes as the DMV prepares to issue driver’s licenses to young, undocumented immigrants who qualify under a federal deportation relief program.

Under the program, immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were under 16 and have continuously lived here for the past five years will become “temporary legal residents”, which means the 1993 statewide ban on illegal immigrant drivers will no longer apply to them.

An estimated 9 percent of all drivers on the road in California have suspended or revoked licenses and more than 3 percent have no record of any driver’s license, while unlicensed drivers are still involved in one of every five fatal crashes.

Those numbers, however, may do little to keep undocumented drivers off the road.

“Sometimes, you know, you gotta take the risk,” said one 21-year-old who is in the U.S. illegally.

Cedillo’s legislative efforts have been emboldened by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who said back in February that he supports giving licenses to illegals.

However, not everyone is behind the move. The group Federation for American Immigration Reform believes it will only encourage more illegal immigration.

“The state shouldn’t be in the business of encouraging people to violate federal law. When somebody has a driver’s license, it enables them to live and work easily in the state,” said Ira Mehiman.

Neighboring Arizona, meanwhile, has taken a much stronger stand against the federal program after Governor Jan Brewer ordered her state agencies to deny licenses to any young people who qualify under the new Obama administration policy.

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