DRIVERS LICENSES FOR ALL IS NOW A REALITY IN CALIFORNIA
At approximately 9:35 P.M., today - September 12th - the California Assembly passed AB60 by a vote margin of 55 to 18, one day after Assemblyman Luis Alejo had pulled his legislation to make it a two-year bill. "Justice delayed is justice denied," responded Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo when he heard of Alejo's decision. Cedillo is the original author of the driver's license legislation, AB60, in 1998 when he arrived at the state assembly.
Alejo's decision was based on pressure both he and Assembly Speaker John Perez received from labor unions, in particular SEIU in the person of Eliseo Medina, International Vice President, and the California Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, who essentially ordered them to not proceed with the legislation. It was never made clear what their real objections were only to say that they mentioned the issue of the distinguishing feature that the proposed license would bear, a DP instead of DL preceding the serial number that appears on the document. However, it was rumored that the unions were seeking to extract some other favor or benefit from the governor and sought to hold the bill as leverage.
When immigrant rights organizations throughout the state learned of Alejo's surrender before Speaker Perez and the unions they immediately went into mobilization mode with telephone calls, faxes, personal delegations to Sacramento, press conferences and interviews, talk radio shows, and email blasts. And, it worked!
First and foremost, we congratulate our immigrant brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, young and old, the hardest working, salt of the earth workers of California for their forbearance, perseverance, patience, and great faith to right the injustices heaped on them for no other reason than their color, language, culture, and legal status. But today, they showed the powerful that the weak will have their moment in history and will not be denied. Twenty years is a long time to finally savor victory, and it is certainly sweet. The State of California and its political leadership and elite owe you more than an apologize for making you wait so long and sacrifice so much.
Second, this victory could not have been possible without leadership and we owe that great honor of recognition to our steadfast leader Gil Cedillo, who under even perilous political circumstances never succumbed to the pressure, threats, and vetoes by five governors, media scrutiny, right-wing DJ harangues, and even betrayal by the labor unions on numerous occasions and even legislator colleagues. He also persevered with the support of the immigrant community and today demonstrated his political metal at the eleventh hour of seeming defeat - and pulled victory out from the jaws of defeat. We are ever so thankful to him and his team - Team Cedillo!
We recognize that today's result, coming on the hills of yesterday's occurrence, could not have been possible without the courage of other state legislators, and special mention goes to Senators Kevin de Leon, Ricardo Lara, and Lou Correa who stood up to labor and refused to allow the bill to die in their chamber. They revived the bill in the senate and moved it to a vote of 28-8, a lopsided vote of support to California's immigrant workers and families.
The social movement demanding driver's licenses for all has a two decade history and many people came together to comprise that movement. There are too many to name and we apologize for any omission, but the list is incredibly long of individuals and organizations who worked tirelessly to bring this to fruition. Thank you for your commitment to social justice:
Mexican American Political Association, MAPA
Jose Sandoval and Voluntarios de la Comunidad
Miguel Araujo and Centro Azteca
Al Rojas and Labor Council for Latin American Advancement,
Southern California Immigration Coalition, SCIC
Latino Roundtable of Inland Empire
Arturo Jimenez and Madaline Rios Pomona Valley Coalition
Lizbeth Mateo of DreamActivist and other Dreamers who were active
Marcos Gutierrez, Radio Commentator
Araceli Martinez Ortega of La Opinion
All the other Spanish language media that consistently covered the issue
Join us in this prolonged campaign for driver's licenses and visas for our families. The first step in making change is to join an organization that pursues the change we desire. We welcome you to our ranks.
Other organizations leading this movement include: Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), National Alliance for Immigrant's Rights, and immigrant rights coalitions throughout the U.S..