Immigration reform showdown coming to California in 2012

In what could make California a battleground for immigration policy in the next major election, Democratic Assemblyman Tony Mendoza of California’s 56th assembly district has written an advisory measure that will allow voters to express their input on whether or not the President and Congress should grant a pathway to citizenship for qualified illegal immigrants.

     “This national discussion demands an intelligent, comprehensive, and balanced approach to immigration reform-one that recognizes that Americans want neither open borders, nor closed borders, but that they want the President and Congress of the United States to work together to enact legislation that rewards work, reunites families, restores the rule of law, reinforces our nation’s security, respects the rights of United States-born and immigrant workers, and redeems the ‘American Dream,'” the bill stated. 

Qualifications included in the measure are that “undocumented immigrants” will “have worked in this country for at least five years, have no felony convictions, have learned to speak English, and have paid all taxes for which they are responsible.”  The measure would be voted on in the June 5, 2012 primary election, also a presidential election year, a time when the bases of both parties are bound to be out in force in what may prove to be a high turnout.

The introduction of the measure into California’s political atmosphere makes the buzz surrounding the issue of immigration in the state all the more interesting. Gov. Jerry Brown has already hinted that he would support the notion of a California Dream Act.  With the election of Brown, immigration reform activists are all the more motivated to carry out their grassroots efforts, especially demonstrated by the strong showing that the state’s rapidly growing Hispanic population made in electing the recently sworn in governor against his Republican opponent Meg Whitman. 

While the measure is yet another action on the immigration issue that puts California on the forefront of the matter, it additionally sets the stage for the state to have an immigration showdown at the polls between both sides in the the key 2012 election. This is because the more conservative side of the immigration argument will also make its presence felt.

The news site Packer.com reports that Michael Erickson, of Minutemen fame and a recently elected official, is gathering signatures to put a law similar to the controversial Arizona immigration law on the 2012 ballot for California voters to decide. Billed the “Support Federal Immigration Law,” it would require local police officers to check the legal status of illegal immigrants with probable cause and criminalize the intentional hire of illegal immigrants.