ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A group of Latino immigrants staged a hunger strike, which they pledge to stick to until Gov. Mark Dayton meets with them to talk about a pending driver's license bill.
Nestor Gomez, of Mesa Latina, told KARE he hasn't eaten since early Monday, and hopes the action will spur Dayton to talk to the group. He said he believed a meeting was scheduled previously, but had to be postponed.
Governor Dayton's staff said he has agreed to meet with the group, but only after the drivers license bill passes both the House and the Senate.
"This is really a public safety issue," Gomez said, "We should want people who are already driving here to be trained properly, tested and licensed."
Gomez is part of a group that held an all-night vigil on the Capitol steps. Another member, Jovita Francisco, told KARE that driving without a license has become a necessity for many immigrants.
Franciso came to Minnesota two decades ago as a teenager and now has children of her own.
"They need rides to church, school, the doctor, the library, all of the places people need to go," Franciso said.
"Riding the bus isn't always safe because people know that immigrants carry a lot of cash, because it's harder to get bank accounts and credit cards."
The bill, authored by Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, of Minneapolis, has made it to the Senate floor and is awaiting action by the full Senate.
The companion bill in the House did not make it through all the necessary committees, so the House will only see the bill if it's inserted into a conference committee report between now and the end of session.
Champion's bill would create "driving only" drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants who can produce a legitimate ID issued by their country of origin.
Sen. Tom Bakk, the senate majority leader, told the group he planned to ask the governor to meet with them personally.
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