Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Sunday a bill that allows certain undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. While immigrant rights groups celebrated that move, Brown disappointed them by vetoing a bill that would let California opt out of part of a federal immigration enforcement effort.
The driver's license bill, AB 2189, would direct the state Department of Motor Vehicles to issue licenses to undocumented immigrants who qualify for "Deferred Action" status. Under Deferred Action, undocumented young people brought to the US as children can qualify for temporary legal status.
Los Angeles Democratic Assemblyman Gil Cedillo sponsored AB 2189. He has been trying for a decade to secure passage of legislation that would give all undocumented immigrants the right to get a driver's license.
Brown's signature on AB 2189 is "a huge victory for the immigrant community and California," Cedillo tweeted.
Opponents say AB 2189 encourages illegal immigration.
Brown vetoed AB 1081, known as the Trust Act. The bill, sponsored by San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, would have required police to waive a federal immigration hold for undocumented immigrants accused of minor crimes. The bill would have required the hold for those charged with a serious or violent felony.
In his veto message, Brown said the bill would have led to the freeing of individuals who had committed crimes such as child abuse, drug trafficking, or illegal weapons sales. The governor wrote: "I believe it is unwise to interfere with a sheriff's discretion to comply with a detainer issued for people with these kinds of troubling criminal records."
Reshma Shamasunder, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, called the governor’s decision disappointing. She said, as a consequence, “thousands of unjust deportations will continue to take place.”
Brown says he while he disagreed with the specific provisions of the Trust Act he supports comprehensive immigration reform including a path to citizenship.