It seems like a lifetime ago when the U.S. Senate passed a bill to revise our immigration laws. The bill -- which was touted by some as the cure to our immigration problems -- went to the House of Representatives and died. The House stated they wanted to deal with the issue in pieces and not have another monster bill like Obamacare or Dodd-Frank, each of which have massive unintended consequences. Without federal action, California is stepping into the breach to resolve the issue for all Americans.
This column previously wrote that to make any progress on immigration, two truths would have to be accepted: First, there would have to be legitimate enforcement of our borders with a real fence along the southern border. Second, that we would have to deal with the estimated eleven million illegal immigrants within our borders, and kicking them out was not a solution. Well, the leaders of California have taken hold of the second part while ignoring the first. .
It starts with the fact that the California Legislature passed a bill that would allow an estimated 1.4 illegal immigrants to obtain California driver’s licenses. Though California was not the first state to pass this law, it certainly is the most significant. The law provides for a change in procedures that would eliminate the need to have a social security number. The law states that an applicant for a driver’s license will no longer have to provide proof that they are legally in the United States to obtain a license.
The first ramification of this is that the law specifically requires that the license be separately identified. But the law then states: “it is a violation of law to discriminate against an individual because he or she holds or presents a license issued under these provisions.” That means if you are an employer in the state of California you must treat an illegal immigrant with a driver’s license just like an American citizen.
The counterpoint to this is the federal government just started a new crackdown on employers in states like California with large immigrant populations. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is warning employers they can be hit with strong civil penalties for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. But, if the employer in California discriminates against illegal immigrants, they are subject to civil damages. Talk about can’t win for losing.
As previously stated, our biggest objection is that now that these licenses will be issued they will be used for voter registration identification. The law specifically forbids the use of the licenses for registration, as stated: “Does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration or public benefits.” We called Assemblyman Luis Alejo, principal author of the bill, to ask him about that.
We spoke with his Chief of Staff, Marva Diaz, regarding the use of the ID for voter registration. After she pointed out the letter of the law, we asked her if she had ever done voter registration. She replied “I refuse to answer that question.” We asked if there was any enforcement against using the licenses given illegal immigrants as identification, to which she replied “I refuse to answer that.” She then said “If you have questions regarding voter registration, you should speak to the Secretary of State.”
We have done voter registration and there is no doubt there will be people who will look at the special designation for licenses to illegals and will not allow them to register. But there will be two other groups of registrars. The first will be the individuals who just are not paying attention or don’t care. Then there will be groups like La Raza who will purposefully use the licenses as a means to register voters. The registration will be processed and no one will stop them. Poof, we have 1.4 million new voters; not one of whom is a United States citizen.
Remarkably, our friends in California are brewing up other ways to give illegal immigrants new rights. Sergio Garcia has passed the bar exam, but he has not obtained legal status in the U.S. The California Supreme Court will soon decide whether the Lawyer’s Bar should issue him a license to practice in California. That will define a new understanding of a lawyer’s obligation to follow the law.
In another action, the legislature passed a bill to allow legal permanent residents to serve on juries. The bill is now on Governor Brown’s desk. The Governor has already signed a bill allowing legal permanent residents to serve as poll watchers. The jury bill would be the first in the U.S. to allow noncitizens to sit on juries. It would certainly redefine “A jury of your peers.”
These continued onslaughts against the rights and obligations of citizens come with a purpose. There are people who believe borders are arbitrary lines established by unsupported governments. They think people should be allowed to live wherever they feel that’s right for them.
Unfortunately, we are allowing the people who want to degrade the citizenship rights of Americans to win the argument. As shown by the Leftist leaders of California, they will take matters into their own hands if Congress does not act. It is time for Congress to take back the immigration laws of this country and stop these scattered shots at our rights.