While the federal government stagnates on any immigration reform, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bevy of illegal immigrant-friendly bills that will make their under-the-radar way of life less of a headache starting Jan. 1, 2012. Opponents have already started filing in.
Perhaps the most contentious of the laws is what's known as the California Dream Act, which will now allow immigrant college students to apply for, and receive, state-funded scholarships and grants. California State Assembly Member Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) has already filed a ballot referendum to repeal the law, calling it "fundamentally unfair
Also, under AB 1236, California cities and counties will be prohibited from mandating employers to use the voluntary federal e-verify program, which checks whether workers have legitimate papers to work in the country. The state law heads off a bill to make the e-verify program mandatory that is already wending its way through the U.S. Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Under AB 353, unlicensed drivers who get their cars impounded will be able to get their car back if an agent shows up the following day with a license and vehicle registration. This is similar to the reform
in San Francisco Police Department policy we first reported on in 2008, which mandates that police allow an unlicensed driver 20 minutes to call a licensed driver to the scene to drive the car away.
Immigrant rights advocates were cheering the victories in statements released today. "2011 has proven a good year for laws that further distinguish [California] from neighboring Arizona and other states that have recently enacted virulently anti-immigrant laws," said a statement released by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Brown also signed Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's AB 207, which will require school districts to accept reasonable documentation that a student lives in that district and can attend school there.
Brown did veto two other bills that would have benefited immigrants, including state Sen. Leland Yee's AB 111 which would have prohibited businesses from barring customers not speaking English. The other, AB 1389, would have imposed further conditions on vehicle checkpoints, which tend to be death knell for immigrants, who can't get driver's licenses without social security numbers in California. Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly