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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

AP Wire | 06/23/2004 | Rabbis protest proposal to mark licenses for illegal immigrants

AP Wire | 06/23/2004 | Rabbis protest proposal to mark licenses for illegal immigrants

Rabbis protest proposal to mark licenses for illegal immigrants

Associated Press


TARZANA, Calif. - Requiring undocumented immigrants to carry special identifiers on driver's licenses is akin to branding them with a yellow star or scarlet letter, Rabbi Dan Moscovitz said Wednesday during a news conference.

Reading aloud a letter sent by six local rabbis to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Moscovitz underscored his support for a new Senate bill that would enable an estimated 2 million illegal immigrants in California to get legal driver's licenses.

However, he questioned the governor's proposal to put labels on the licenses, saying the "lionizing and singling out of a group of individuals" did nothing to fight terrorism and only contributed to ethnic discrimination.

The contentious driver's license bill, which passed its first legislative committee last week, is the fourth attempt since 2001 by Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, to overturn a 1994 ban on licenses for those who cannot prove they live legally in California.

Schwarzenegger has expressed reservations about the bill, saying he prefers that licenses be marked to indicate the holder is an illegal immigrant. Schwarzenegger representatives say the licenses should only be good for driving, not for use as identification. They've also branded "scarlet letter" criticism as "a bit absurd."

Schwarzenegger and many opponents to licensing illegal immigrants have expressed repeated concerns that driver's licenses provide easy cover for terrorists.

Opponents maintain that licenses amount to a reward for breaking the law.

The bill must pass the full Senate and Assembly by Aug. 31 and be signed by the governor by Sept. 30 to become law.

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