Shedding light on ‘Dark Mondays’

Hugo Vera is a Sacramento-area organizer for the Mexican-American Political Association, the oldest Latino political organization in California
It doesn’t take a genius to realize our state’s economic strength depends on immigrant labor to maintain its productive edge over the rest of the nation and over the world. Yet, underpaid workaholic immigrants who populate the fields, factories and service sectors of our great state are considered criminals every time they get behind a wheel.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ensured this criminalization in 2003 when he repealed a law that allowed any California resident, regardless of immigration status, to get a driver’s license after passing a background check and driver’s exam.

What can we do to right this wrong? Do not buy gasoline on Mondays. This will send a message to Schwarzenegger that the people of California want all drivers to have a driver’s license and auto insurance, including the immigrants who are vital to the well-being of California’s economy.

Do your own research. Next time you are driving down the street or on a highway, look around you at the faces of the people driving next to you in their cars, trucks, vans, buses and semis. Your study should produce the same results as mine: A large percentage of drivers on our roads are Latino. If you take your study one step further and correlate the faces to the type of vehicle driven and the hour that it is being driven, your study should produce the same results as mine: A large percentage of Latinos driving on our roads are working or driving to work.

Now compare the results of your study with the research of the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which found there were at least 2,209,000 undocumented immigrants residing in California in 2002.

Add to that figure the findings of a recent RAND Corp. study, which found that illegal immigrants in California are paid less than native workers at all skill levels but are equally productive. The study concluded that, as a result, Latino immigrants have contributed to California’s faster economic growth compared with the rest of the nation from 1960 to 1990.

So, let’s not criminalize these workers any longer. Tell the governor it’s past time to right this wrong and to give driver’s licenses to all California workers.

Until then, do not buy gasoline on Mondays. For more information on the “Dark Mondays” boycott, go to or