Proposed Initiative Could Revoke Law Allowing Undocumented Immigrants to Obtain a State Driver’s License

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SACRAMENTO — Those opposed to some of California’s immigration policies may get their chance to make a difference at the ballot.

Three years ago, some say California’s new Safe and Responsible Drivers Act became a rite of refuge for those in the country illegally, a rite of rancor for those who disagree with the legitimacy they felt it conferred on admitted lawbreakers.

West Sacramento mother Maria Rodriguez-Orozco was one of more than one million people eager to exercise their new right and one willing to talk about it. Others were too afraid to speak out then, concerned their applications might target them for deportation.

With a new federal administration holding a hard line on illegal immigration, more of these drivers are concerned about sharing their stories, especially now that efforts are in the works to end the program with a 2020 ballot measure.

That measure’s being pushed by Don Rosenberg, the only man to testify against the act that started out as AB 60, a law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013. His son was killed in a San Francisco car crash by an immigrant from Honduras.

Ravi Mehta is the lawyer for Rosenberg’s group, Fight Sanctuary State.

“If they have an existing license they can keep it but they cannot go back and renew it if they’re undocumented aliens,” Mehta said.

Carlos Montes-Ponce with Sacramento ACT sees the move as part of a President Donald Trump-led wave of fear-based mistrust of people just looking for a better life.

“It’s an issue of public safety,” he said. “It allows people to drive without fear of being stopped by the police. They feel integrated and invested into the State of California.”

Some people would say there’s a simple way for immigrants to feel integrated into the community by processing their request for citizenship and coming to the country legally.

“There’s a variety of reasons why people choose to come to this country, not just economic opportunity. Sometimes political hardship, asylum,” Montes-Ponce said in response. “And asylum is actually part of one of the conventions that a lot of countries in the world agree to. To offer when people have legitimate concerns for their safety, that they’re genuinely afraid to go back to their country of origin.”

All things this country and California are still struggling with, on and off the roads.

Organizers of the 2020 ballot measure effort intend to hire a company to help gather the 365,880 signatures needed to get their idea on the ballot.

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