CA: Integrating Immigrants into Education and Licensing Laws

In the state with the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the countries, state legislators in California are bucking the trend of enacting punitive measures against immigrants and instead voted for two proposals that actually seek positive solutions in integrating new immigrants into the economy.

The state Assembly voted to allow any student, regardless of legal status, who has attended three years of high school in California to qualify for financial aid when they attend California colleges and universities. This builds on existing law which allows the same group of students to qualify for in-state tuition at community colleges in the state.

The state legislature also voted for a bill, SB1162, allowing the state to issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, a move that sponsors note would make the roads safer by requiring immigrants -- who often have to drive in order to get to work -- to pass the state's driving test and get insurance. The bill requires security measures and a special mark signaling that the license is held by an undocumented immigrant. The governor has stated that he will veto the bill nonetheless.

Both these bills recognize that our country is better off if the millions of undocumented immigrants are integrated into society, rather than being marginalized by being denied education and legal rights such as a drivers license.

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