We know that almost half illegal immigrants in the country live in either Texas or California. Texas will most likely cooperate with Trump but California will be fighting tooth and nail. They bend over backwards to make them feel comfortable. If they want to be citizens, they should do it legally. California doesn’t understand that.
By Makeda Easter and Dakota Smith
It started with in-state tuition. Then came driver’s licenses, new rules designed to limit deportations and state-funded healthcare for children. And on Monday, in a gesture heavy with symbolism, came a new law to erase the word “alien” from California’s labor code.
Together, these piecemeal measures have taken on a significance greater than their individual parts — a fundamental shift in the relationship between California and its residents who live in the country illegally. The various benefits, rights and protections add up to something experts liken to a kind of California citizenship.
The changes have occurred with relatively little political rancor, which is all the more remarkable given the heated national debate about illegal immigration that has been inflamed by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“We’ve passed the Rubicon here,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist. “This is not an academic debate on the U.S. Senate floor about legal and illegal and how high you want to build the wall…. [The state] doesn’t have the luxury of being ideological…. The undocumented are not going anywhere.”
Democratic lawmakers and immigration activists, with diminishing opposition from the GOP, continue to seek new laws and protections. These measures include cracking down on employers withholding pay from low-wage workers and expanding state-subsidized healthcare to adult immigrants without papers.
These new initiatives face obstacles, but backers say such hurdles center on the hefty price tags of the programs, not political fallout from the immigration debate.
California officials have been spurred into action in part by the lack of action in Washington to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. The stall in Congress has motivated advocates to push for changes in state laws. But they acknowledge that their victories are limited without national reform.
“The reality is, despite the bills that we’ve done, there are up to 3 million undocumented immigrants that still live in the shadows,” said Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), chairman of the Latino Legislative Caucus. “Their legal status as immigrants does not change — only Congress can do that.”