Immigration Initiative Unlikely to Work

Vanessa Duffy

She dreamed of being a nurse. She worked hard through high school, has glowing recommendations from her college professors and volunteered hundreds of hours at hospitals. Employers were offering her immediate positions when she graduated.

So why isn’t she carrying out her dream?
She can’t get through the application process because she doesn’t have a Social Security number.

Gregory Perkins, counselor for the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) at Glendale, was somber when telling the story of this anonymous student.

“We’re losing a lot of talent because our system is broken,” said Perkins.
Immigrants come to the U.S. to fulfill the American dream, but there is a short ceiling to what they can accomplish. Those who pursue an education basically have a meaningless degree until there is immigration reform.

Unless an employer sponsors them with a work visa.

There is a new immigration initiative that might be on the ballot in 2012. If it gets 433,000 signatures, it may annihilate any hope illegal students have of having a career.

Initiative proponent Michael Erickson is the writer and sponsor for the Arizona-like initiative.

It’s still essentially racial profiling, but apparently not “as” discriminatory as Arizona’s AB1070. The difference between the proposed initiative and the Arizona law is that police can only question your legal status if you are already in violation of law.

For example, on the California initiative, if a person is pulled over for speeding, and the police officer has reason to suspect that the person is illegal, that officer will contact a federal immigration authority, like border patrol, to check the person’s immigration status. But if those agencies can’t get the answer in short order they have to let the person go.

With the Arizona law, a person can get pulled over for just looking “illegal.”
According to section 4B of the initiative, police may claim “suspicion” if someone does not have one of the following forms of identification:
A valid California driver’s license
A valid California identification card
A valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification
A valid United States passport
A valid passport issued by another country containing a valid visa document issued by the United States
Any valid United States federal, state or local government issued identification.

Arizona is having a lot of backlash from its AB1070 immigration law. So why should California pass a law that is already being proved a failure?

“The thinking is, if the court rules in favor of the Arizona law, the illegals would flee Arizona and flood into California,” said Trace Gallagher, news anchor for Fox News. “[Erickson and supporters] want to get a strict law in the books for California quickly.”

The initiative will hit hard on businesses with illegal employees. The crime for employers who hire illegal immigrants either knowingly or unknowingly will be punishable by a large fine and possible incarceration.

Violation of this law will be a prosecutable offense brought against the employer by the county district attorney who will determine whether or not to pursue a federal criminal prosecution.

The employer will be required to terminate the employment of all unauthorized aliens and sign a sworn affidavit that they have done so.

The business will then be subject to a three-year probationary period during which the employer will file quarterly reports on all new employees. They will have to register and use the e-verify program for employment eligibility.

The court may also order the appropriate agencies to suspend all licenses for a minimum of 10 business days. The court may impose fines between $5,000 and $10,000 for a second violation.

“This is a time [when] we should be pulling together,” said Perkins. “The state economy would be in trouble if this passed. [The illegal immigrants] play a role that keeps down the daily cost of living.”

“If a strict immigration law passes in California, it would amount to a decrease in California’s labor force,” said Rose-Marie Payan, economics instructor at Glendale.

She said the supply of unskilled labor will decrease. Employers would be forced to raise market wages to attract workers into many of the manual labor-type positions.

“Initially, this may seem attractive to a state that is facing over 12 percent unemployment. However, there are real costs associated with the potential new law,” said Payan.

“For one, food prices will rise along with the prices for many services. Also, voters would have to consider the fact that there would be substantial costs of policing and enforcing the new immigration policy.”

For illegal immigrant students, this will make the ability to fund their education extremely challenging since they do not qualify for financial aid, grants, scholarships or other waivers.

“I came here to get an education so I can have a good career and provide a better life for my sons,” said EOPS student Karina, who is here illegally. “[America] has a good society and I want to be able to keep my family safe.”

Relief for these students has been proposed by the Dream Act, which stands for Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act. It helps individuals who meet certain requirements have an opportunity to enlist in the military or go to college and have a path to citizenship that they otherwise would not have without this legislation.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill on Dec. 8, 2010 by a vote of 216 to 198 but fell short by five votes in the Senate and failed 55 to 41.

Those who voted against the bill said that the issue of immigration has to be “priority.”

President Obama commented on the failure and said that his administration will not give up on the Dream Act or fixing the immigration system.
For more information about Erickson’s immigration initiative, visit