Home Blog Page 377

Two Brand New Polls Show Continuing Shift on Immigration in California

Survey and Research Institute, San Jose State University

A poll conducted March 27 to 31 and just released by the Survey and Research Institute at San Jose State University shows that a strong majority—59% of California residents and 54% of voters favor allowing “undocumented or illegal aliens” to become legal residents of the state.

The survey found that the issue has become highly partisan and ideological. Democrats favor allowing a path to legal residency by 65-24% and Republicans are opposed 40-50%.Likewise, liberals favor the notion 63-23% and conservatives oppose it 43-47%.

The results are favorable for immigrants in all regions of the state, although by a narrow margin on the central coast. The central valley and rural California was also strongly supportive.

“Although some politicians appear to be trying to stir up the issue, our survey suggests that Californians are not nativistic or xenophobic,’’ said Phil Trounstine, director of the Survey and Policy Research Institute. “In fact, even when the issue is posed using a
politically incorrect term like ‘illegal immigrants,’ Californians say they think there ought to be a means by which these people can become legal residents.”

Asian-Americans are the least supportive of allowing a path to legal residency for illegal
immigrants and Latinos are the most supportive. Among whites, majorities of both adults and voters support a means by which illegal immigrants may become legal residents of California.

AP-Ipsos Poll

A nationwide poll by AP-Ipsos released yesterday shows that Americans are divided about whether undocumented immigrants help or hurt the country. 56% of those questioned are open to allowing undocumented workers to obtain some temporary legal status so they can stay in the United States.

A Positive Agenda To Help Immigrants in California

frankrusso-small.jpg

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.

Slavery and Human Trafficking in California Today

[Editor’s note: It is hard to believe that in the year 2006 slavery is a problem in the state of California, but it is. Primarily women and children, many of them non-English speaking, they are forced to work in sweatshops, prostitution rings, farm labor, and other places where they are exploited. We have received materials from the state Atttorney General’s office and other sources. There is much to read and think about. We need to make sure the state protects these victims who are generally powerless to take actions for themselves.]

billlockyer.gif

From the office of Attorney General Bill Lockyer

Attorney General Lockyer Launches Task Force to Examine Human Trafficking and Forced Labor

Attorney General Bill Lockyer this week convened the first meeting of a statewide task force to address the emerging issue of human trafficking, a crime involving captives — many of them non-English speaking women and children — who are forced to work against their will in sweatshops, prostitution rings, farm labor, private homes and other enterprises under deplorable conditions.

“Human trafficking and forced labor is not only unconscionable, it is illegal,” said Lockyer. “It is my hope that this task force can identify ways to strengthen California’s ability to combat this inhumane and hidden crime.”

The California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery (CA ACTS) Task Force was established as a result of AB 22, by Assembly Member Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View) and SB 180, by Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles). Chaired by the Attorney General, the CA ACTS Task Force will examine the issue and present a report for legislative review. The report, due by July 2007, will identify the scope of human trafficking in California, collect and summarize data, describe local and statewide efforts to address the issue, determine gaps in services, and make recommendations on how to improve California’s law enforcement and prosecution efforts, as well as its response to victims.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery,” said Assemblywoman Lieber. “California is committed to putting these merchants of human suffering out of business and the work of this task force is critical to that effort.”

In addition to creating the task force, Lieber’s bill criminalized human trafficking under California law and established legal benefits for victims. Kuehl’s bill also created a training program to educate peace officers on responding to human trafficking offenses.

“Human trafficking is rapidly becoming one of the most serious human rights issues of the 21st century and it’s time for California to take immediate and strong action,” said Senator Kuehl. “This task force has been formed to identify ways to coordinate efforts to prosecute traffickers, and, most importantly, provide survivors of trafficking with desperately needed services and support so they can recover and get on with their lives.”

A recent report by the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley cited 57 cases of forced labor in California between 1998 and 2003, with over 500 victims. The report, Freedom Denied,
notes most of the victims in California were from Thailand, Mexico, and Russia and had been forced to work as prostitutes, domestic slaves, farm laborers or sweatshop employees.

The report also noted that crime data on human trafficking is difficult to track because exploited immigrants are reluctant to report abuse. Captors often take away victims’ identity documents and threaten them with reprisal, such as harming family members in their home countries. Victims can also fear law enforcement because of their experiences with corrupt authorities in their home countries.

Members of the CA ACTS Task Force include representatives of statewide criminal justice associations, local law enforcement, human trafficking victims’ advocate groups, state government leaders, researchers and victims.

Additional information about human trafficking and a list of the task force members is available at the Attorney General’s Crime and Violence Prevention Center web site.

Additional Sources:

CALIFORNIA EFFORTS:
California is a leader in addressing the issues surrounding human trafficking. Two important pieces of legislation were signed into law in September of 2005: Assembly Bill 22 (Lieber) and Senate Bill 180 (Kuehl). Both bills establish human trafficking for forced labor or services as a felony crime punishable by a sentence of 3, 4 or 5 years in state prison and a sentence of 4, 6 or 8 years for trafficking of a minor. These bills provide for mandatory restitution and allow trafficking victims to bring a civil action against his or her trafficker. Strict guidelines and timetables are created for the issuance of Law Enforcement Agency Endorsements for trafficking victims. The bill also establishes an interagency statewide task force, the California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery (CA ACTS) that will be chaired and administered by California Attorney

California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery (CA ACTS)

California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery’s first meeting was held March 22, 2006 in Oakland. Information on the 15-member task force: roster, biographies. Please read about their duties and the task force meeting’s agenda.

Click here to read the full text of AB 22.
Click here to read the full text of SB 180.

Five law enforcement jurisdictions in California received federal grants from the U.S. Department of Justice to combat human trafficking. These grants require strong working relationships between law enforcement and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) who provide direct services to victims of trafficking. Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose Police Departments as well as the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department received funding that will also allow them to provide training to other law enforcement jurisdictions and conduct human trafficking investigations.

There are several organizations throughout California that provide direct services to victims of human trafficking. You can learn more about these organizations at the following sites.

Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)
Asian Pacific Islander Outreach
Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition

To learn more about human trafficking, please look at

NATIONAL RESOURCES:

In the Spotlight: Trafficking in Persons

FAT SHEET: Distinctions Between Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking, January 2005 (Published by The Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center)
Assessment of U.S. Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons (September 2005)

RESEARCH:

Hidden Slaves: Forced Labor in the United States, September 2004. Free the Slaves and Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley.

Freedom Denied: Forced Labor in California, February 2005. Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley.

California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery (CA ACTS)
The statewide task force’s first meeting was held March 22, 2006 in Oakland.

California Bill to Reform Electoral College: Issue Gets National Attention

A bill has been introduced by Tom Umberg, Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee that would reform the electoral college and make Californians’ votes matter along with that of other states that are ignored because they are not swing states.

This can be accomplished by California and other states under Article 2, section 1 of the U.S. Constitution which allows each state to appoint electors “in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.”

The idea is to have a number of states enter into a compact that their electors would go to the candidate who received the most votes nationally, regardless of how the individual states voted. If enough join in, then every vote in the country will count.

For those of us who had to travel out of state to make a difference in the last Presidential election (I went to Pennsylvania and ran the Kerry operation in LeHigh County), it would sure be nice to be able to remain in California and work on many local campaigns and have a real incentive to turn out the vote for President as well.

This is part of a national movement. The New York Times endorsed this approach last week.

There is a national group with members from California, called the National Popular Vote.

The Oakland Tribune today ran the story as the main headline of the day.

There is even a book you can read on-line for free.

The bill, AB 2948, will be going to the Assembly Elections Committee. We should get behind it and let our legislators know we like it.

One person, one vote. Read the above links and you’ll find it compelling.

Angelides Unveils Plan To Protect Coast, End Schwarzenegger Neglect

angelides_phil.jpg

California State Treasurer and Democratic Candidate for Governor Phil Angelides today released Coast Guard, his plan to protect the California coastline, end Governor Schwarzenegger’s policy of neglect, and defeat President Bush’s new plans to drill for oil and gas off the California coast. Angelides, who has been endorsed by 70 prominent environmental leaders and Vote the Coast, a grassroots political action organization whose purpose is to achieve coastal protection and conservation, unveiled the plan in Santa Barbara.

“The California coast is endangered and President Bush and Governor Schwarzenegger are taking us in the wrong direction,” said Angelides. “When it comes to the coast, Governor Schwarzenegger moves his lips but doesn’t lift a hand to protect our coast. Unlike this Governor, I will offer real action and a real plan.”

Coast Guard – The Angelides Plan for Protecting the California Coast will:

• Launch a comprehensive program to identify, purchase, and protect key undeveloped portions of the coast.
• Fight for a permanent federal ban on oil and gas drilling off the California coast.
• Require comprehensive state planning before approval of any liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals and desalination plants on the coast.
• Restore funding for the Coastal Commission and other coastal protection agencies.
• Reduce coastal pollution and beach closures from sewage and runoff.
• Require lobbyists to register and disclose their contacts with the Coastal Commission.

“Phil Angelides is an informed, decisive, and visionary leader who is committed to protecting California’s magnificent coast for generations to come,” said Susan Jordan of the California Coastal Protection Network. “As Governor, he won’t just talk about protecting California’s tremendous natural resources, he’ll deliver.”
Currently, three-dozen wastewater plants dump 1.5 billion gallons of sewage a day into the Pacific off California’s coast, many of them into shallow waters, forcing 3,985 beach closures and warnings in 2004 alone. This past summer, Los Angeles beaches had the worst water quality in five years. However, in the face of these mounting threats to the coast, Governor Schwarzenegger slashed legislative appropriations for the already under-funded Coastal Commission, failed to fund the Marine Life Protection Act and vetoed legislation requiring public disclosure of lobbyists’ private contacts with coastal commissioners.

California’s coast is also under attack in Washington, where President Bush and Republicans in Congress are pushing to resume oil and gas exploration and drilling off the cost, risking catastrophic new oil spills.

“As Governor, I will work with Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Lois Capps to permanently ban offshore oil drilling off the California coast,” Angelides added.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger claims to support our coast, but his words just don’t match his actions,” said Vote the Coast Board Member Ozzie Silna. “We need a Governor who will truly stand up for our coast and aggressively fight to ban offshore oil drilling once and for all.”
Angelides’ campaign for Governor is co-chaired by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and has been endorsed by over 70 prominent California environmental leaders including Congresswoman Lois Capps, Carlyle Hall and Robert Garcia of the Center for Law in the Public Interest, Mary Nichols of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment, Gary Patton of Land Watch Monterey County, Sara Wan of the California Coastal Commission, former State Senator Byron Sher, former Planning and Conservation League executive director Gerald Meral, conservationist Sam Schuchat, Global Green founder Diane Meyer Simon, and environmental advocates Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ted Danson, Ed Begley Jr. and Laurie David.

Angelides’ campaign has also been endorsed by a broad coalition of Santa Barbara County leaders including Congresswoman Lois Capps, Santa Barbara County Supervisors Salud Carbajal and Susan Rose, Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, Mayor Pro Tem Helene Schneider, Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Iya Falcone, Roger Horton and Das Williams, former County Supervisor Naomi Schwartz and Susan Jordan of the California Coastal Protection Network.

Read Coast Guard – The Angelides Plan for Protecting the California Coast.