Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Quick Rundown - Immigrant-Related Policies in CA

This past year has generated a flurry of activity around immigrant issues at the federal level, but most people don't know that there's a lot going on in California as well. The deadline has recently passed for the Governor to sign or veto bills from this last legislative session, and the outcome was a mixed bag for immigrant communities.

In an important victory for immigrant communities, the Governor signed AB 976, a landmark bill sponsored by apartment owners, that restricts landlords from checking the immigration status of would-be renters. This legislation is in direct response to local ordinances passed throughout the country, including in Escondido, CA, that try to ban landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants. Although Escondido backed down from enforcing this ordinance due to litigation and related controversy, this legislation prohibits other localities in California from passing similar ordinances. It sends a clear message to cities that requiring laypersons to check something as complex as immigration status will result in profiling, discrimination, and fear among immigrant communities. Immigrant advocates and landlord groups also hope this legislation paves the way for other states to pass similar legislation, ensuring people who look or sound like immigrants don't face undue discrimination. You can check out some recent articles written about AB 976 by taking a look at some of the following links -


Despite his support for AB 976, the Governor mostly vetoed legislation that would have benefited immigrants, including the California Dream Act, which would have allowed immigrant college students eligible for resident tuition rates to access state-funded financial aid; SB 1, which would have established an Office of Immigrant Affairs to facilitate immigrant integration into California; AB 295 which would have enhanced state data to reflect the diversity of Asian and Pacific Islander communities; and SB 382, which would have allowed newly naturalized citizens to register to vote on the day of an election.

The California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) was particularly disappointed by the Governor's veto of AB 8. The healthcare reform proposal that passed out of the legislature would have benefited many low-income California families and workers, including immigrants. The proposal represented a real step forward for low-income individuals who are currently uninsured or underinsured. The legislature continues to consider healthcare reform in a special session called by the Governor, but it is unclear what the outcome will be. The Governor's proposal, which he put forward after stating he would veto AB 8, lacks a lot of the consumer protections and affordability measures present in AB 8 and is not an alternative that consumer groups and labor are likely to support. To learn more about the healthcare reform debate, take a look at the Health Access blog at http://www.health-access.org/blogger.html.

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