Turning a blind eye towards illegality
By John D. Turner
11 Aug 2003

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any stranger, California ups the ante.

A bill, introduced by state Senator Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) would call for the estimated 2 million illegal immigrants in California who are old enough to drive to be “properly trained, licensed, fingerprinted, photographed, and insured” before they are allowed to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. It’s a safety issue, after all. And embattled Governor Gray Davis, facing a recall election, has promised that he will sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk. Gov Davis vetoed a similar law twice. Once in 2000, and again last fall, saying that the bill needed a provision that illegal immigrants prove they were working. He also expressed concerns that terrorists might obtain licenses.

Huh? Am I missing something here? We are talking about people who are in the country illegally, aren’t we? What part of illegal does the legislature in California, and Governor Davis not understand? How can a law enforcement agency, as presumably the California Department of Public Safety (or whatever they call themselves in California) is, grant drivers licenses to people while tacitly turning a blind eye to illegal activity? How can the California State Government order them to do so? Aren’t both sworn to uphold the laws of the state (and the U.S. Government as well)?

And isn’t it illegal to hire illegal immigrants? It sure is here in Texas, and I thought that was a Federal law, not just a Texas state law. It was my impression that a non-citizen had to provide proof they were here legally in order to legally be employed. According to the Immigration folks, “All U.S. employers are responsible for completion and retention of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. On the form, the employer must verify the employment eligibility and identity documents presented by the employee and record the document information on the Form I-9." It would seem that the purpose of this form is to document that one who is working here in the U.S. is doing so legally; else what is the purpose? Of course, since “no filing with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is required”, you could lie on the form…who would know?

If it’s illegal to hire someone who is here illegally, how are they supposed to provide proof of employment? Wouldn’t requiring businesses and individuals who illegally hire illegals to provide such proof be a violation of their fifth amendment right against self-incrimination?

Evidently this is California’s version of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy. Interesting. A sitting Governor suggesting to a state legislature that they write a law that requires a person who is here illegally to prove that they have a job (that is illegal to provide under U.S. law), in order to obtain a legal document, which, in California, is all that is required for an individual to vote in an election!

And Gray Davis is facing a recall election. Hmm.

Senator Cedillo says he “doesn’t know what motivated him”, but he is excited that he has changed his mind. A spokesman for Gov Davis has stated that he doesn’t believe Davis reversed himself (despite the fact he earlier vetoed the bill - twice), claiming that all along Davis has wanted to sign it, but that first it had to meet his specifications. However the current measure, SB 60, meets few if any of the highly detailed objections Davis cited previously as reasons for vetoing the bill last year, and a similar measure in 2000.

In fact, unlike previous versions of the bill, this one, which has passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly, does not contain a requirement that the applicant be in the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship or that a background investigation be made to weed out individuals with a criminal history.

It’s a miracle! Gov Davis had an epiphany on the road to Damascus on this issue!

Angling for the Latino vote? Nah. Couldn’t be. Democrats would never trade favorable legislation for votes. Only Republicans are so duplicitous. The illegal vote? Well, illegal immigrants are prohibited by law from voting in elections, so that could never happen. (Of course, it’s against the law for them to even be here, but so what?) The dead, it seems, can vote illegally, but not illegals. It has been rumored that illegals not only voted in the National elections in California in 2000, but were encouraged by Democrat campaign workers to do so (for Al Gore, of course). But I’m sure it really never happened; just part of the Republican propaganda machine, and the Great Right Wing Conspiracy that illegally installed George Bush as President of the United States.

Senator Cedillo has remarked that this measure would enhance National security, by making it possible for law enforcement officials to use DMV records to find illegal immigrants who may have committed a crime. . Why should they care about that? Their very presence is a crime, and that seems to matter not. Of course, I am sure Senator Cedillo is referring to real crimes here (whatever that may mean), not simply violating a law that he obviously cares very little about.

This is all very commendable of Senator Cedillo, to be sure. Of course, the very term illegal immigrant kind of supposes a crime from the get-go, doesn’t it? Or have we somehow contrived to twist the word illegal to mean OK, in this case. The politically correct term, of course, is “undocumented worker”. That’s much nicer than “illegal”. “Undocumented” can be construed to mean some sort of administrative oversight, not a premeditated activity on the part of an individual to enter the country in violation of our immigration laws, which it appears the government of California has chosen to ignore. This is obviously a group of people fully entitled to work, live, vote, receive social services, unemployment compensation, welfare, free medical, you name it here in the United States, whom, but for the unfortunate fact they were born in a different country and are “undocumented” in this one, do not otherwise qualify to do so. Well we can fix that! We’ll just issue them a drivers license!

This is all quite ludicrous, and probably to be expected coming from the land of fruits, nuts, and flakes (most of whom seem to be in the state legislature). However, it is also quite serious. California only requires a driver’s license as proof of identification to vote in elections. In fact, it was reported that poll workers in the 2000 elections were instructed not to ask for further identification. We have a national election coming up in 2004, and California is the state with the most electoral votes and a winner-takes-all system for assigning those votes. Mr. Bush won last time without carrying the state, but, as I am sure everyone in the country is aware, it was a very narrow victory. If this bill passes, expect to see a big push by the Democrats to “get out the illegal vote”, much more so than last time. And, as California tends to be a trendsetter, expect to see similar legislation coming to a border state near you.