October 27, 2006

Commentary:

Schwarzenegger Election Flip on Driver’s License

By Gil Cedillo
California State Senator

I am deeply disappointed by Governor Schwarzenegger’s lack of integrity and leadership on the driver’s license issue. For three years we have presented options for issuing a driver’s license to those without documentation. Each bill addressed the Governor’s stated requirements and each year he has vetoed the bill. For him to now say, two weeks out from Election Day, that he supports the bill is insulting and duplicitous.

The Governor seems to pin his position on this issue to the prevailing political wind. In the 2003 recall election he ran on the promise to rescind the law, in 2004 he gave his word to sign the bill with certain security stipulations. When the bill arrived with the requested security measures he vetoed the bill unceremoniously. Rather than working together to find common ground on the issue the Governor vetoed the bill again in 2005 and 2006.

If the Governor was truly interested in taking a leadership role on this issue he could have signed the bill when it arrived on his desk three weeks ago. This year’s proposal contained the most stringent security measures for licenses in the nation. Senate Bill 1162 exceeded even the Federal REAL ID Act requirements for term and security precautions. It also required full funding for the federal REAL ID Act prior to implementation. The Governor could have joined the many elected, law enforcement and community leaders that truly support this issue but instead he vetoed the bill, holding it as a political hostage during an election year.

Arnold Schwarzenegger attempts to position himself as moderate, as an independent voice seeking pragmatic solutions. The reality is this Governor is no leader; he seeks solutions and makes statements that are politically convenient for him. The Governor had three years to work out a compromise on the driver’s license bill. He chose not to. And now with only two weeks remaining until the election, without any attempt to work together on a solution, he announces he favors giving licenses to the undocumented.

The immigrant community sees the Governor’s false claims of support for what they are. A thinly veiled attempt to woo the Latino vote. They understand he is not trustworthy, that he claims support for the community but has time and time again failed to deliver on the issues that matter most. On the driver’s license bill, access to compete for financial aid, or opportunities for English language acquisition in high school this Governor has failed in his promises to lead. And come Election Day it is imperative that immigrants, and all Californians, tell the Governor they have had enough of this political gamesmanship.

Senator Gil Cedillo is a California State Senator and has represented the 22nd Senate District since 2002. He is a member of the Senate standing committees on Judiciary, Public Safety, Rules, Transportation and Housing. Senator Cedillo grew up in Boyle Heights, attended local schools, and graduated from UCLA in 1977. For the past 3 years, he has authored bills on California Driver’s licenses that have passed the legislature only to be vetoed by the governor.

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