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Valley Public Radio Staff
Thu January 31, 2013
California Lawmakers: "It's Time" for Federal Immigration Reform
There appears to be significant bipartisan support in the California legislature for the proposed federal immigration overhaul under discussion in Congress. But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, some Republicans still have concerns.
Twenty Democrats and five Republicans stood together to say they want Congress to get something done after years of putting it off.
“We’re not going to sit here and say, if it fails to do this, that or the other thing, this party’s to blame or that person’s to blame. It is our job, collectively, to get success here,” says Democratic Assembly Speaker John Pérez.
Republican Senator Anthony Cannella expressed confidence that this will be the year.
“This is going to happen. And if anybody wants to get in the way, they’re gonna be steamrolled over. So there’s a lot of momentum, it’s the right thing to do, and it takes a long time in this country to do the right thing, but eventually it happens – and I believe now is the time,” said Cannella.
The lawmakers spoke on the same day a California Department of Finance report projected the state’s Latino population would equal the number of whites later this year and surpass it next year.
Still, not all GOP lawmakers think the federal proposal is on the right track.
“The main thing I’m concerned about is the whole amnesty conversation,” says Assemblyman Brian Jones.
He says immigrants in the country illegally shouldn’t be allowed to cut in line ahead of people going through the legal immigration process. And he’s upset that border security efforts are involved in the Congressional talks at all.
“Why isn’t that just already being done? Why do we have to negotiate that border security? Why does that have to be a deal point on immigration reform? We should already be doing that.”
California is a border state – and it also has a higher percentage of immigrants than any other state. So it’s likely that state lawmakers in both parties will keep a close eye on any federal legislation for how it affects California.
ORIGINAL NEWS BRIEF:
A bipartisan group of California lawmakers is throwing its support behind the push for a federal immigration bill in Congress.
A group of 25 Senators and Assembly members attended a news conference Thursday in support of the legislation. That’s more than a fifth of the state legislature’s total membership.
Most of the lawmakers are Democrats, but five Republicans showed up as well. One of them, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, went through the immigration process himself and says it needs to be made more user-friendly.
“This is not only toward Hispanics. I’m an Armenian. And there are many other nationalities among us. So this is leveling the playing field to all concerned and welcoming our immigrants with open arm,” says Achadjian.
The lawmakers spoke on the same day a new California Department of Finance report projected that the state’s Latino population will match the number of whites later this year – and exceed it in 2014.