Tuesday, April 7, 2015

California Legislators Consider State Laws Designed to Facilitate Immigrant Integration, Not Promote Immigration Enforcement

For the last few years, many states, such as Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, and localities, from Hazleton, Pennsylvania to Farmer's Branch, Texas, have taken steps seen as facilitating immigration enforcement and attempted to move the federal government to deport more undocumented immigrants.

California in recent years, through extending driver's license eligibility to undocumented immigrants, allowing undocumented students to be eligible for state assistance to attend public universities, and related measures, has moved in another direction.

Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times reports that Democratic lawmakers will unveil new immigration-related proposals later today, including measures that would extend state-paid health coverage to undocumented immigrants. Legislative leaders reportedly hope to spur national immigration reform.

The most far-reaching of the new proposals would offer enrollment in Medi-Cal — California's healthcare program for the poor — to people who qualify regardless of immigration status.  Other proposed measures would protect immigrants from prejudice and deportation. One bill, SB 600 by Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), would make it illegal for businesses to discriminate in providing services on the basis of immigration status, citizenship or language.  Another proposal is aimed at increasing access to temporary federal visas for victims of certain crimes, such as sexual assault or human trafficking. Under the bill, SB 674 by De León and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), law enforcement and government officials would be required to fill out forms necessary for such visa applications.



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