Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Latino group revisits Gov. Scott's veto of driver's licenses for "Dreamers"

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 4:42 PM

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Last month, Gov. Scott vetoed HB 235, which would have made it easier for the children of undocumented immigrants to obtain a temporary driver's license as long as they are in school, earned a high school diploma or served in the military, as well as have no felony record. It was one of the governor's boldest vetoes, as all but two people in the Legislature disagreed with him.

Scott's decision earned him negative press in some of the state's editorial pages, as well as in press conferences hosted by Democrats and immigration reform advocates.

And then nothing happened.

But today the group Florida For All held news conferences in Miami, Orlando and Tampa to remind the public about the Scott veto. They advocated that he call a special session for the Legislature to deal with the issue.

In Tampa, a handful of activists descended on what has been a focal point for immigration reform advocates this year — Ybor City's Centennial Park, which hosts a statue of an immigrant family representing the Spanish, Cuban and Italian ancestors of the historic district.

CL asked Edwin Enciso with Florida For All why they decided to hold the press conference today.

He said it was to highlight the fact that while immigration reform has yet to happen this year, there are "simple things that states can do to make life easier" for undocumented immigrants.

"Even once we have immigration reform, the challenges that immigrant communities face are still going to take time to implement, and so what we're asking for is temporary relief and for the Legislature to do all that it can to make life easier," he said.

Two members of the group United We Dream Tampa Bay also spoke out to denounce the governor's veto. Jacky Cruz said Scott's veto puts him "on the wrong side of history" and it will continue to hurt Latino and immigrant families in Florida.

Cruz is eligible for a license because she has been approved for deferred action, the executive order President Obama signed in June of 2012 that would prevent the Department of Homeland Security from deporting certain DREAM Act-eligible undocumented youth.

Deferred status gives undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain a federal employment card, which allows them to still qualify for a driver's license.

Maria Palacios recently graduated from Armwood High School. She said Scott's veto of the driver's license legislation has created another obstacle for her and her family, making it "scary to come out of the shadows when he has done this."

Although the House of Representatives is getting ready to depart Washington for the rest of the summer without passing a companion immigration bill to match the Senate's legislation, there is talk that ultimately they will pass a DREAM Act type bill when they return in the fall. Democrats have indicated that they're not interested in legislation that fails to provide a pathway to citizenship for most of the estimated 11 million undocumented people in the U.S., including students and other so called "Dreamers."

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