Skip to comments.Bid to block license law has immigrants on edge
Posted on 11/24/2003 2:18:57 PM PST by yonif
Gabriel Ide lives in fear of being involved in a car accident.
The 19-year-old St. Helena resident drives his mother's minivan to his classes at Santa Rosa Junior College with more on his mind than the average driver.
One fender bender or stop by the police and the truth would be discovered: Ide does not have a driver license because he is not an American citizen.
Ide has lived in the country on a tourist visa since he was five years old. His father, a resident alien in the United States, and his mother both have legal Social Security numbers. But Ide is not his father's biological son and right now there is no path to legal status for him.
"My biggest fear is that somebody rear-ends me," Ide said. "I wouldn't know what to do if the police came."
Ide is caught in the crossfire of rapidly shifting state policy. In the weeks before the recall election, then-Gov. Gray Davis signed a measure, SB 60, that would allow non-residents to get driver licenses. But Davis' replacement, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has vowed to block the measure.
When Davis signed the law on Sept. 5, Ide's parents consulted an attorney to help him gather what he needs to apply for his license when the law takes effect on Jan. 2: A Mexican identification card, his birth certificate and an Internal Revenue Service tax identification number designed for foreign investors.
Proponents say the new law will make the roads safer by forcing undocumented residents like Ide to carry insurance and show they know how to drive in California. Republicans in the legislature say the law rewards illegal immigration and provides a dangerous security loophole for terrorists.
However, Republicans don't have large numbers in Sacramento and they don't control the committees that grant life or death to proposed laws.
"What we do have," said Bill Bird, communications director for State Sen. Rico Oller (R-San Andreas), "is a new sheriff in town by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger."
During his first week in office, Schwarzenegger called for special sessions of the legislature to tackle the state budget, worker's compensation reform and SB 60.
Bird said Schwarzenegger personally instructed Oller to lead the fight against SB 60. Last week, Oller introduced a senate bill to repeal the law.
Today, Oller's bill heads to the Democratically-controlled transportation committee.
It takes a two-thirds majority to overturn the law, requiring about 12 Democratic senators to switch sides. Bird is confident Republicans will be able to influence their Democratic colleagues by gathering signatures to place SB 60 on the statewide ballot.
"The referendum effort is the hammer behind this legislation," he said. "(Democrats) do not want to see this on the ballot, just as they did not want to see the recall on the ballot."
Bird said GOP petition pushers will work the crowds of bargain hunters outside stores on the day after Thanksgiving.
"The grassroots that got the recall going is the same grassroots that will get SB 60 on the ballot," Bird said.
Dan Savage, press secretary for east Los Angeles State Sen. Gil Cedillo, the author of SB 60, said he thought it would be a hard sell to win a majority of Democrats.
His boss is open to discussion of a compromise bill that would require background checks, but Schwarzenegger hasn't provided details about what kind of background checks he would accept, if any.
"From his perspective, (Schwarzenegger) doesn't have to offer too many details," Savage said. "He wants to repeal the law."
Added to the legislative furor are threats from the Internal Revenue Service that it will block anyone it knows wants to obtain a key tax identification number to obtain a California driver license.
Cedillo wrote SB 60 to require individual taxpayer identification numbers, or ITINs, as a replacement for Social Security numbers and a way to meet requirements of federal child support laws.
Jesse Weller, a spokesman for the IRS, said ITINs were originally intended for foreign investors with business interests in the United States. That way, not only could foreign business people pay U.S. taxes, but they could claim their spouses and children as dependents -- even if they are citizens of other countries.
Weller wouldn't go on the record to describe how the IRS would check on the identity and purpose of applicants for ITIN numbers. He would only say the IRS would pursue enforcement of tax violations.
Bernardo Mendez, a spokesman with the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco, indicated hope for the law among Latinos was waning.
Immediately after Gov. Davis signed the bill, he said interest in obtaining Mexican identification cards from the consulate jumped about 30 percent.
"In the beginning (Latinos) were enthusiastic, they were optimistic," he said. "But after two or three weeks they realized this law wouldn't be enacted."
Although the Mexican government has no official opinion on the issue, the idea of repealing SB 60 struck Mendez as unfortunate.
"All these people have the need of driving to work, because you know most of these people are workers," he said. "We haven't found that terrorists are coming from the Mexican border."
Neither fear of political changes nor the IRS has stopped Ide from pursuing his plans. He believes that on Jan. 2, he'll be able to apply for his licensee.
"I don't really drive that much just for pleasure, just for places I need to go," Ide said. "Basically it's going to take the load off my back, I can stop worrying so much. That's basically it. I'm a nervous wreck every time I hop in."
They left out a very crucial word in this headline. Here, let me fix it...
Bid to block license law has ILLEGAL immigrants on edge
There. Much more accurate.
That headline is making us LEGAL immigrants look bad...
If they're still here, they're not enough on edge.
So the parents are guilty of breaking the law. Send them all back to their nation of citizenship, where they can drive with a clean conscience.
The awkward wording here suggests to me that the author is intentionally trying to hide the fact that the "parents" are not married. The article seems to downplay the issue of how somebody came to the US on a tourist visa and "forgot" to end the tour.
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