LOS ANGELES – A group of California lawmakers on Tuesday presented a package of measures to strengthen protection of undocumented immigrants and thus alleviate the “political paralysis” in Congress over approving immigration reform.
“In California, there are about 40 million residents... of Mexican, Central American and Asian origin. So, today we’re presenting a package of 10 measures to protect undocumented immigrants,” Kevin de Leon, the Democratic president pro tempore of the California Senate, told Efe.
“With these bills we want to make it very clear to the entire country that in California we’re inclusive and receive with open arms all immigrants who come to work to provide a better life for their families,” he said in a telephone interview from Sacramento.
De Leon is presenting the package of laws on Tuesday in conjunction with Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and other lawmakers.
De Leon is also the author of SB674, intended to protect immigrants who are the victims of crimes.
“With that bill, by law, the police or the sheriff will have to provide a copy of the proof of criminal complaint to undocumented people in order to get their U visas,” said the senator, who added that in “some cities, police refuse that copy to people without legal documents and there is no law that demands it.”
The document, on which complaints such as domestic violence and other crimes are listed, is a requirement for requesting a U visa for immigrants who become the victims of crimes.
The package of measures also includes a bill that would provide healthcare protection to undocumented immigrants, one against abuse by “unscrupulous” sponsors and the creation of the Office of New Americans with the aim of integrating immigrants into society.
“These laws... could be pushed in both houses by federal legislators, but they lack the will,” said De Leon, alluding to the logjam holding up immigration reform in Washington.
Joseph Villela, the policy director Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told Efe that “political paralysis due to lack of leadership by legislators in Washington D.C. forces us to push these bills in California.”
He said that since November about a dozen activist organizations had met with California senators and other lawmakers to present the package of bills to them.
“These 10 new laws are those that lawmakers told us it would be possible to present to seek votes for them, but when we began talking with them, they proposed to us a package of about 40,” he said.