Immigration reform may be stalled at the federal level, but on a state-by-state basis, many things are changing. This is perhaps most true in California, where the number of protections and rights afforded to undocumented immigrants is so great that it is almost a sort of citizenship. In the state, undocumented immigrants have access to driver’s licenses, professional licenses and certification, in-state college tuition, some state-funded medical care and more. While immigration reform debate rages on nationally, California lawmakers are contending with the reality of their state’s situation.
“There is a growing recognition now that we’re a state of rich diversity,” Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) told The LA Times. “We’re a state of immigrants and that’s a positive.”
According to the Times, another reason California is making immigration moves of its own is the fact that Latinos have surpassed whites as the largest ethnic group in the state, and there are many immigrants in that demographic. California also has a large Asian population, some of whom are immigrants as well. In such an environment, there is more acceptance of certain reform measures.