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Los Alamitos News Enterprise
By Bill Orton
To hear it said by proponents of Assembly Bill 60 (Cedillo), getting a drivers licenses is a right or an entitlement that belongs to anyone with an itching to drive.
I'm one of those people who believes that we ought not to dispense our most important legal documents, like a drivers license, from a vending machine.
Now being a candidate for office, I've found out that giving a straight opinion like this is not something that they teach you in politician school.
Plenty of people who otherwise support my campaign for Assembly say, "How can a Democrat like you oppose the drivers licenses bill?"
I'm urging the Governor to veto Assembly Bill 60 because I think that folks who come here ought to do it right. If an immigrant didn't start out here legally, they ought to fess up and seek proper legal status, even if that means the prospect of doing it all over from scratch.
Yes, there are countless people who came here illegally. Yes, thousands stayed. They're raising families. They're paying taxes. And it may be true that the people who want licenses need them to get to work.
All of that's probably true.
It's no wonder that people from all over the world would want to come here.
We're the most successful nation in the history of all time. Our economy, even in tough times, is still better than just about anywhere else.
But that doesn't change what's right and proper. It doesn't change the law.
My wife is from northern Europe and for awhile we lived there to be close to her family. I've been an immigrant. I've been the guy who didn't speak the native language (and who lost out on some job opportunities as a result).
When we lived in Scandinavia, I had to sit in front of the immigration people and say why I wanted to live and work in the country. I had to get the stamp in the passport. Likewise, my wife has a green card. She did the fingerprint and interview thing.
The immigration process is what you do if you go to another country, because you ought to do it right. You ought to land with both feet down squarely, so you are free from looking over your shoulder worrying, wondering when they're going to get you.
I know that I'm not the only Democrat who feels this way on the drivers license issue.
I'd point to Louis Caldera as one good example of how good people -- and good Democrats -- can disagree with the author of AB 60.
Mr. Caldera served in the State Assembly for a handful of years. Wrote the law about kids having to wear a helmet when riding their bike. Later went on to be Secretary of the Army. Quite a guy.
Mr. Caldera served the people of the very same district that Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo represents. I imagine that Louis Caldera and Gilbert Cedillo probably agree on most things. There're both Democrats. They both served the same folks.
But on this one point -- drivers licenses for illegal immigrants -- they couldn't be further apart.
You see, in 1994, it was Louis Caldera who wrote the law saying that you can't get a drivers license if you're here illegally. I look at that simple fact as proof that good people can differ fundamentally on this contentious issue.
As a Democratic candidate for state Assembly, I side with Mr. Caldera.
I encourage Governor Davis to veto Assembly Bill 60. We shouldn't change our law. People here illegally should not be able to get a drivers license.
We ought not to fill up the vending machines with our most valuable legal documents.
(Now, if we could just do something to encourage drivers to put down the cell phone and signal before making a turn, then life would truly be better for everybody.)
To have Bill Orton speak to your group about this issue, send an email message to email@example.com or call (562) 598-9630.