A Positive Agenda To Help Immigrants in California

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As we think of Cesar Chavez on the state holiday honoring him, there are a number of proposals we’d like Governor Schwarzenegger and the legislature to support. We’d also like to see some leadership from the Governor on the 25 or more punitive bills introduced by Republican Assemblymembers and State Senators.

Here’s what we’d like to see the Governor take a stand on and support:

SB 1160, known as the California Real ID Act. This is the third bill introduced by Senator Cedillo that would have the Department of Motor Vehicles issue drivers licenses and identification cards to immigrants in this state. It is specifically tailored to meet any legitimate concerns over national security. The issuance of driver’s licenses and ID cards must comply with the federal Real ID Action of 2005 (Public Law 109-13) and only after regulations are finally adopted by the US Secretary of Homeland Security.

SB 1160 makes eminent sense so that those who are driving in this state will be driving safely and meet the qualifications of all those who have driver’s licenses. We need to face reality and stop playing politics with this issue. Rather than another veto, early support would signal the Governor’s commitment for a reasonable compromise to the challenges of homeland security, highway safety, and respect for immigrants.

Senate Bill 160, known as the California Dream Act. This would allow undocumented students, who have met the in-state eligibility requirements, to be able to apply for federal financial aid and other assistance without guarantees. Those who have graduated from California high schools would be able to attend the University of California, California State University, and Community Colleges. This measure is supported by the California PTA, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and a number of organizations.

Senate Bill 1267 which calls for the development of the California Office of Immigrant Affairs is being considered by a Senate Committee at a hearing on this coming Wednesday, April 5. This statewide office would monitor the needs of businesses and keep California poised as the fifth-largest economy while creating an infrastructure that would facilitate and promote citizenship and encourage English-language skills.

The legislative findings in SB 1267 are worth a read. In two pages, they provide excellent set of statistics and tell the story of the lives of more than one-quarter of California residents—8.8 million foreign born individuals.


What we’d like to see the Governor take a stand on and oppose

The 25 punitive measures that are described in the San Jose Mercury article this week.

By stating his opposition to these, the Governor would put an end to election year demagoguery by Republicans in the legislature.

This would also go a long way to placing the Governor’s support for Proposition 187, the 1994 initiative that would have denied social services to immigrants. That measure was thrown out by the courts.

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