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Old 04-07-2015
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Location: east coast, but born in calli.
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Default Immigration Reform: California Democrats unveil far-reaching package of bills

By Jessica Calefati

SACRAMENTO-- Demonstrating California's commitment to undocumented immigrants, Democratic legislative leaders on Tuesday unveiled a sweeping package of bills to expand protections for immigrants here far beyond any other state.

The 10 pieces of legislation would, among other things, offer healthcare coverage to all Californians regardless of immigration status, establish a California Office of New Americans and make it illegal for businesses to discriminate against people because of their citizenship or the language they speak.

Calling the proposals a direct response to Congress' "intellectual laziness" and "lack of work ethic" on the issue, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said deficiencies in state law unfairly limit undocumented immigrants' potential.

"Our food, our clothing, our music, art and technology - these are industries central to California's advancement and they're all driven by immigrants," de Leon said at a Sacramento news conference where he unveiled the bills on a stage packed with other Democrats and immigration reform advocates.

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, conceded that the federal government's failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform has unfairly shifted the burden to the states, but he was quick to raise questions about the cost of the proposed legislation.

"We understand the burdens facing immigrants who want to go to work and raise their families in safe neighborhoods, and the rationale behind these bills is admirable," Huff said. "But without money from Congress and President Obama it will be very difficult and costly for California taxpayers to fund all of these bill proposals."

Anti-immigration groups active in California and nationally are expected to oppose the bills, and costly proposals, like Senate Bill 4, which would expand access to healthcare coverage for all Californians, may not have support from Gov. Jerry Brown.

Other measures included in the package would strengthen protections for immigrant workers and those seeking legal representation, help immigrant victims of crime apply for special federal visas, block disclosure of immigrant children's records to federal authorities and prevent immigrants from being deported who have participated in court-ordered drug rehabilitation.
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