LABJ FORUM - Steering Into Controversy

Aside from the recall effort, no state issue has elicited more debate in recent weeks than the legislation, signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis, that would allow illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses. The measure had been strongly supported by Latino legislators and strongly opposed by conservative Republicans who say it makes a mockery of immigration laws. So the Business Journal asks:

What do you think of the new law that will allow illegal immigrants to obtain California driver's licenses?

Frank Moran
President, chief executive
Team-One Staffing Services Inc.,
Past President of Latin Business Association

It is highly intelligent and honest for the government to approve this rather than rejecting it based on fear propaganda that is circulating. It is positive. It will actually benefit the security and safety of US citizens. There will be additional DMV revenue fees generated, who knows how many, but whatever it is it will be a tracking mechanism and it will lay groundwork to legitimize those who are participating in the illusion. It shows the intellectual integrity and commitment of those who are not biased or swayed by propaganda and fear.



Susan Kendall
President
Kendall Frozen Fruits Inc.

I really thought I was for it before because I used to have a housekeeper who really could have used it. But now I think it will reduce security on the borders and reduce the credibility of our (Americans') legal documents. The fact that the government agencies can't talk to each other on certain things I think is a bad thing too. Davis is trying to win favor with the Latino community because of the recall.



Sam Karawia
President and Chief Executive
International Services Inc.

This country is based on equality, so there shouldn't be any exceptions made for illegal immigrants. If you have someone here illegally and they can get a driver's license, how are you going to control who's legally here? The first thing the police do when you get stopped is to ask for your driver's license. If you don't have that, they start asking you questions. But if you have a driver's license and get pulled over, how do you know that person is illegal here. I know the question is, do you get someone a driver's license to make the streets safer, but driving is not safe at all anyway.



Penny Entin
Chief Executive
Altour Classic Cruise & Travel LLC

I am definitely against it. It will put I don't know how many more drivers on the freeways, and we can't afford more traffic. They won't have insurance, so everyone else's uninsured motorist insurance rates will go up. In the travel business, our concerns are security, security, security. We have to assure our clients that our airports and streets are safe, and here we have one more thing to worry about. And we won't have any way of checking if they (immigrants) are legitimate or if they have criminal backgrounds in their country. We don't have control over the drivers we already have now.



Ira Mehlman
Media Director
Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

We strongly disagree with the decision of the legislature and the governor. This was clearly a politically calculated move, a desperate effort on the part of Davis to save his job. He has vetoed similar legislation twice before, and now all of a sudden when he's fighting for his political life, he's signing this? This is his way to bring Latino voters out to the polls to oppose the recall. It's not going to work. He has probably alienated far more voters by doing this. Even among Latino voters, this is not an especially popular measure. In the process, he has comprised what little integrity he has left and America's national security.

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