Gov. Jerry Brown visits FCC, signs AB60 into law (VIDEO)


Photo by: Darlene Wendels

Gov. Jerry Brown gives a speech on the steps of the Old Administration Building at Fresno City College on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, prior to signing AB60, a law that will allow residents with an illegal status to obtain driver's licences in California beginning in 2015.

Abel Cortez

Story By: Loren Daniels, Patrick Forrest, Reporter, Arts and Entertainment Editor

California Gov. Jerry Brown was at Fresno City College today to sign a bill that would permit eligible undocumented students and workers to apply for and obtain a California driver’s license.

“The fact that a million people are recognized by the law in the state of California sends a message to Congress,” said Brown. “They are not going to be able to ignore a million people. We are the biggest state, we are the dream state and now we are the state of opportunity.”

Brown was joined by author of AB 60, Assemblyman Luis Alejo  (D-Salinas) and Fresno Police Department Chief of Police Jerry Dyer for a signing ceremony that took place outside of FCC’s Old Administration Building. The state Assembly approved AB60 with a 55-19 vote on the final day of its legislative session.

The bill in origin would have provided driver’s licenses to the population of more than 2 million undocumented high school students and tax-paying workers who could prove that their presence in the United States is authorized under federal law.  The final bill asks the DMV to determine required documentation.

“I like to remind people…this  law does not give driver’s licenses to immigrants. It gives them the opportunity to earn it. They still have to provide the documents to show that they’re eligible, they still have to pass a written exam and a driving exam just like everyone else,” said Alejo.

California has seen the push of similar immigrant reform bills.  In 2003, Gov. Gray Davis signed a driver’s license bill that was repealed after the recall of then-Governor Davis. And even though many other bills geared toward getting undocumented Californians legally driving had cleared state legislature, these bills were vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during his term in office.

“It finally is beginning to feel like the place you have always called home is beginning to accept you.” said Estefania Hermosillo, a “dreamer” student from Modesto Junior college who spoke at the event.

“We’ve gone through phases from … bringing people in and seeing them as visitors at first but then as Americans,” said Associated Student Government Senator Kyle Borzoni. “We can’t ignore these people anymore; that’s what’s happening to Latinos. They won’t be ignored anymore.”