July 15, 2005

California Rejects “Anti-Immigrant” Amendments

By Juan Esparza Loera

July 14, 2005 — The days when anti-immigration proposals were used to create a divided California are over, said Assembly Speaker Fabián Núñez last Tuesday after the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee rejected proposed constitutional amendments that would have denied some benefits to undocumented immigrants and created a state border police.

“What we’re seeing in Sacramento is a minority group that is trying to use the immigration issue as a scapegoat,” said Núñez during a telephone press conference. “We will not allow that to happen in California.”

The committee voted 5-2 against a proposal by Assemblymember Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta, that would have given the state’s Division of Homeland Security a California Border Patrol to help federal agents enforce immigration laws. Among the bill’s co-authors is Assemblymember Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto.

By a 4-2 vote, the committee rejected a plan by Assemblymember Mark Wyland, R-Del Mar, that would have prohibited undocumented residents from receiving any health care or social services not required by the federal government. It would have eliminated the lower in-state tuition rates for undocumented students and would have required people to show identification when they vote.

Haynes and Wyland said the state is paying up to $10 billion a year on undocumented immigration costs without getting full reimbursement from the federal government.

“The federal government has just abandoned state and local governments and is doing a terrible job on (immigration),” Assemblymember Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, told the Associated Press. “Something needs to be done. This is the right step in the right direction.”

Not so, said Núñez.

“I think they have wrong information,” said Núñez, “because they don’t take into account what (undocumented immigrants) contribute.”

Núñez said undocumented workers help keep jobs like those in the textile industry in the state. They also take jobs that others refuse to do, he added.

“We should be looking at ways we can compete in a global economy and utilize immigrants in ways we can control to strengthen our ability to be competitive on a global level,” said Núñez.

Measures like those by Wyland and Haynes, said Núñez, do nothing to help the state.

“It’s a false strategy that does nothing to help California,” said Núñez. “I don’t think the politics of Pete Wilson from 1994 have a place in California in 2005.”

“What it all comes down to is whether or not we look at the ills of immigration, or we look at the contributions of immigration,” said Núñez. “We complain about the ills, but we take advantage of their cheap labor.”

Wyland and Haynes said they will try to get signatures to put their proposals before voters next year. Voters, said Núñez, are too smart to support either bill once they “know all the facts.”

“In Mr. Haynes’ case, we are basically talking about taking money away from schools, from public services, from police and fire and using that money to patrol the border. That is a federal obligation, not the state’s,” said Núñez.

“I don’t think we ought to be blaming children for the ills and mistakes of adults,” said Núñez about the Wyland proposal. “I don’t think the Republican Party will take on these issues.”

Asked if Gov. Schwarzenegger has taken a stance, Núñez said the governor has been silent.

“My hope is that he either stays away or opposes them because they don’t address the root of the problem,” said Núñez. “I would be surprised, to be honest with you, if the governor came out (in support).”

Reprinted from Vida en el Valle http://www.vidaenelvalle.com

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