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California Latino Leaders Call for Gas Boycott

LOS ANGELES -- Latino leaders on Monday called for a weekly boycott of California gas stations as a way to resurrect an immigrant driver's licenses bill vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, reported the Associated Press.

Pro-immigrant groups urged motorists to avoid buying gas every Monday through next year or until lawmakers allowed illegal immigrants to apply for licenses.

"Our campaign isn't a day protest," said Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Association and Hermandad Mexicana, after announcing the "Dark Mondays" boycott at a gas station in downtown Los Angeles. "It's a prolonged campaign of pressure to obtain licenses for immigrants regardless of their status."

Several outside observers questioned the effectiveness of the proposed boycott. "Obviously people can arrange not to buy gas on Monday but arrange to buy gas on all other days," said Stephen Levy, senior economist at the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. "This is equivalent to a bumper sticker drive."

The strategy was designed as a response to Schwarzenegger's veto in September of a measure approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature that would let upward of 2 million immigrants drive legally. Schwarzenegger has said the bill ignored his requirement of key security safeguards -- an identifying mark that would differentiate them from licenses held by U.S. citizens and legal residents.

Supporters argue such licenses would strengthen public safety by requiring illegal immigrants to know the rules of the road and obtain insurance. State Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) plans to introduce another license bill next month.

That measure could prompt activists to push for a nationwide expansion of California's gas station boycott, Lopez said.

The gas station boycott is the latest in a string of protests over immigrant licenses, including a one-day work stoppage last year that led to the firings of some employees who briefly walked off the job.
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