Tuesday night during the State of the Union, President Obama brought up the touchy subject of immigration reform, saying that the country should, "take on, once and for all the issue of illegal immigration." The President went on to say he was prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders and enforce the laws, and address workers living in the shadows. "I know that debate will be difficult, I know it will take time, " added the President, "But tonight, let's agree to make that effort."
But California is one of at least twenty states unwilling to wait for federal action. Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly has introduced a measure practically identical to SB1070, Arizona's tough immigration bill. It would make it a crime under California law to be in the state without the proper documentation and local police would be required to check the papers of anyone they detain if they reason to believe the person is in the country illegally.
Donnelly says it's about enforcing the rule of law and jobs for Americans, "in one part of my district 25 percent of the people are out of work," says Donnelly. He points out while the state has a nearly thirty billion dollar budget deficit, it spends nearly two to three billion dollars to house illegal immigrant prisoners, which he calls a dramatic cost.
"It's the further nail in the coffin of the California Republican party," insists Matt Klink, a GOP consultant for the California based Cerrell Associates. Klink says the measure is divisive and predicts it will be a failure in California where both houses of the legislature are controlled by Democrats. He points out more than 20 percent of the electorate in California is made up by Latinos, and this effort will only push them farther away from the party. "Latinos should be with the Republicans based on the Republican stance on lower taxes, boosting small business, respect for family values, " says Klink, "and this initiative does exactly the opposite, it turns them off."
While the bill will face many obstacles in California, another group is busy gathering signatures to put it initiative form and onto the California ballot, where voters could then decide for themselves.
Anita Vogel joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles based correspondent.