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California: Davis Vetoes Drivers Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

Despite past promises to support such legislation, California Governor Gray Davis has vetoed a bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrants who are long-time residents of the state to obtain driver's licenses.

Critics charged Davis put "politics ahead of public safety." Under the terms of the vetoed bill, illegal immigrants could obtain drivers' licenses if "they passed all driving tests, underwent criminal background checks, were applying for legal residency and could prove they were employed and had lived in California for at least 15 months in the last three years."

"Davis had promised last year to sign such a measure and had worked on a compromise for months, but said in his veto message that "the tragedy of Sept. 11 made it abundantly clear that the driver's license is more than just a license to drive; it is one of the primary documents we use to identify ourselves."

The bill's sponsor, Gil Cedillo, argues that there are nearly one million illegal immigrants in California, and that by denying them drivers' licenses, the state is creating "a class of uninsured and untrained drivers."

In other legislative action, the Governor signed into law a bill authorizing people who have already served their sentences but were convicted on the basis of false evidence to apply to the court to have their convictions overturned. This is meant to apply to the two dozen or so persons who were convicted upon testimony by officers involved in the Ramparts scandal.

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