Immigrant-rights groups divided over bills on Gov. Brown’s desk

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A split emerged in the immigrant rights community Thursday over two bills on the governor’s desk. More than a dozen groups representing immigrant youths urged Jerry Brown to sign the Trust Act but opposed a bill providing driver’s licenses that they say would affect many fewer people.

The concern, the groups say, is that the governor may only feel the need to sign one major immigration bill this year and that it might be AB 2189. That bill would provide clear authority for the DMV to issue driver’s licenses to up to 450,000 young immigrants who qualify for work permits under a new federal program deferring deportations for those brought to the country as minors.


The Dream Team activists worry that the governor might then veto the Trust Act, a bill that would prohibit local authorities from complying with federal detention requests except when a suspect has been charged with a serious or violent crime. That bill potentially affects many more Californians, said Oday Guerrero, founder of the 20-member Central Valley Dream Team.

‘The Trust Act is really crucial,’ said Guerrero, who is undocumented. ‘We wouldn’t want Gov. Brown to favor one bill that would only benefit a small percentage of the undocumented population over another bill that would benefit a lot of people, not just Dreamers but their parents, their aunts, uncles, family members.’

Fourteen youth immigrant groups, including some in Los Angeles and Orange counties, sent the governor a letter Thursday in which they said the driver’s license bill by Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) is more symbolic, because they believe they would qualify for licenses without the bill once the federal government gives them work permits.

‘On behalf of Dreamers in the state of California, we write this letter in opposition to Assemblyman Cedillo’s symbolic driver’s license bill, AB 2189, and we urge you to sign the TRUST Act, Assemblyman (Tom) Ammiano’s AB 1081, now,’ the letter said.

Cedillo said his bill is more than symbolic because it puts the eligibility for licenses into state law. He said there is no need for groups to urge Brown to favor one bill over the other; they can have both, he said.

‘The governor has already demonstrated that he is not a one-bill governor when it comes to immigration,’ Cedillo said. ‘Last year he signed three bills that had a positive impact on immigrants living in California.’

The dispute emerged on the same day that several members of Congress wrote to Brown, urging him to sign the Trust Act.


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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento