SACRAMENTO, CA (AP) - After years of setbacks, Democratic lawmakers and Latino activists are on the verge of seeing immigrants who are in the country illegally granted the right to a driver's license in California.
The state Assembly approved the bill on a 55-19 vote late Thursday, hours after the Senate also voted to pass it. Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement indicating he would sign it into law.
"This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally," Brown said. "Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due."
The approval on the final day of this year's legislative session was a surprise.
The author of AB60, Democratic Assem. Luis Alejo of Watsonville, was prepared to put his legislation on hold until next year because of opposition from immigrant-right groups. They had objected to a provision that calls for the licenses to look different from regular licenses by giving them a special designation.
"Ours is the most discreet, ours is the only one that has non-discrimination provisions and protecting immigrants and so I think we're leading the way in making sure that we do this right," Alejo said. "That we address the concerns coming from the immigrant community, but also that coming from law enforcement and the governor."
Several other attempts had passed the Legislature only to be vetoed by previous governors.
The Associated Press