Last month millions of undocumented immigrants were left in legal limbo when a divided U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that had blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.
As comprehensive immigration reform stalls along party lines in Washington, D.C., state Democrats are taking action in Sacramento. Backed by an assortment of coalition partners, California’s blue lawmakers have authored 10 new immigration bills (four in the Senate and six in the Assembly) to better the lives of two million undocumented individuals — five percent of California’s population.
As a thunderstorm with hail and lightning soaked a drought-parched Sacramento, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) announced the “Immigrants Shape California” reform measures. They would increase the consumer, civil, criminal, health-care and labor rights of undocumented households.
“We are doing the work of the federal Congress,” said de León during a late-morning news conference inside the state Capitol. “This is our reaction to their lack of action.”
“With these bills,” said Atkins, “California will show the practical, humane and forward-thinking leadership that can move the needle on a national discussion.” To this end,
As this series has made clear, “The California Chasm” is a challenge that threatens to transform the state into a shadow of its former self. Once a place where people came together to realize fortunes, remake their lives and attain their piece of the American Dream, we have become a state saddled with sharp differences in social, economic and health outcomes due to race, place and class.
This is an encore posting from our State of Inequality series
The resulting division is damaging to our sense of community but it also leaves the potential of our residents untapped. With research increasingly demonstrating that more equitable strategies can produce more sustainable growth, we need to create a conversation about how California can lead the nation not in inequality but in opportunity.
We have the know-how —
Nearly a decade ago, L.A. labor leader María Elena Durazo organized the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, a national caravan that brought immigrants and their supporters around the country to Washington, D.C., to push for immigration reform. In the ensuing years, there has been much talk but no action on extending legal protections to the country’s millions of undocumented immigrants.
All that changed yesterday, when President Barack Obama announced that he would sign an executive order granting temporary protection to as many as 5 million immigrants. Advocates were elated, while critics sharpened their knives and prepared for a PR counteroffensive.
Capital & Main spoke by phone with Ms. Durazo this morning shortly after she arrived in Las Vegas to join the President as he signs the executive order into law.
Capital & Main: What do you think of President Obama’s executive order granting temporary protection to undocumented immigrants?
Activist Video Archive, that indispensable repository of Los Angeles’ progressive history, has recently released excerpts from an in-depth interview it conducted with Angela Sanbrano, a key figure in the Latino-rights movement. Sanbrano, who got her first reluctant taste of activism through the United Farm Workers union grape boycott, went on to co-found Inquilinos Unidos, was National Director of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) and served as executive director of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN-LA).
Sanbrano would play a critical role in organizing 2006’s massive immigrant rights march in Los Angeles that protested the criminalization of undocumented immigrants. Today she serves as the executive director of the Mexican Network of Migrant Leaders and Organizations.