Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) on Tuesday night vetoed a bill that would grant drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants in the state.
The measure passed through the state’s Republican-controlled legislature with little difficulty, but Scott on Tuesday claimed the bill never should have made it to his desk: “[passing the bill] should not have been done by relying on a federal government policy adopted without legal basis.”
In June of last year, the Obama administration granted “deferred action” to certain undocumented immigrants. Florida’s ID bill would have given such people the opportunity to obtain a license, which would help to lower the rates of uninsured drivers in the state. But Scott claims that the entire deferred action program, and thus the licensing effort, is illegal.
Scott follows several other Republican governors who have tried to use a legal technicality to avoid signing a bill that might upset his conservative supporters. The governors of both Arizona and Nebraska also said their hands were tied when it came to licensing the undocumented. But several other states — including Nevada, Connecticut, and North Carolina — have recently made steps to license the undocumented.
The veto might also have unintended political consequences. Democratic State Senator Darren Soto (D) dubbed Scott’s veto an “an anti-Hispanic bomb,” expressing a widespread sentiment that, as the country examines an immigration overhaul, every move that disadvantages the undocumented will come under scrutiny.