Immigration reform in California may pave the way for the rest of the U.S.

Louis Brandeis, the famous Supreme Court Justice who dedicated himself to public service, once said that California was a “laboratory of democracy.”

Right now, many different bills are pending that would grant Californian undocumented immigrants rights they wouldn’t have in many other places in the country (the right to practice law and to have a driver’s license are among the biggest). They need to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown before they become law.

Brown has said of the forthcoming legislation that “hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due.”

California leads in more ways than one. While taking a strong stance on positive immigration reform, the state also has the highest number of immigrants of any state in the country. This has the side effect of making some of the harsher federal immigration policies unpopular in the state.

One such federal policy is Secure Communities (SCOMM), which requires law enforcement to hold an arrestee and do a check against an ICE database. If the person arrested comes up as deportable, they are then deported in most cases. These deportations are not kept to serious cases, either. In one case, a woman was deported after she was arrested for a minor traffic incident.

SCOMM is a problem, and a severe one at that, because it discourages undocumented immigrants from going to the police when they are victims of a crime, thus leaving them without protection and without the feeling of safety in their own communities. This was perfectly illustrated when Lucy Allain, an undocumented immigrant, told her story of being sexually assaulted at the age of 14. The sexual assaulter knew she was undocumented and held that over her head to keep her silent, threatening the deportation of herself and her family if she said anything.

It’s good that California is leading the way and introducing legislation to counteract them altogether. Hopefully the rest of the nation follows California’s lead soon.

More on Immigration Reform:

  • Immigration Reform 2013
  • Gang of 8
  • Earned Citizenship
  • Streamlining Immigration
  • Strengthening Border Security
  • More Accountability for Employers Hiring Undocumented Immigrants