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States attempt patchwork immigration reform

As the nation remains at a standstill over immigration reform, California is taking progress into its own hands.
Young Immigrants Apply For Obama Administration's Temporary Deportation Reprieve
Hundreds of people line up to receive assitance in filing up their application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles on August 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

As the nation remains at a standstill over immigration reform, California is taking progress into its own hands. On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses—making California the 10th state to do so.

The California legislature passed the bill last month, ensuring that those in the country illegally would be able to receive permits to drive in the state. The permits will not be allowed to be used for “federal official purposes,” and will contain a notice on the card that reads: “This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits.”

“With AB 60, we are recognizing the needs of many hard-working immigrants living here and contributing so much to our great state,” Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who proposed the bill, said in a statement last month.

Advocates of the bill have argued that the new law will increase safety on the road, and minimize hit-and-runs caused by undocumented immigrants who are scared to stick around after an accident out of fear of deportation. ”If the person is on the road, I would rather have the person pass written and physical driving tests. If they don’t, then they are more likely to make a mistake on the road, not follow the rules, and kill me or someone else,” California State University, Northridge Professor David L. Moguel said in an interview with the CSUN newspaper.

But as California moves forward on the immigration front, there has been little movement on the national front. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi unveiled a comprehensive immigration reform package Wednesday, but it is unclear whether the ongoing shutdown will continue to stall progress.