SACRAMENTO, CA — “Since 2007, California’s agricultural industry has experienced the highest agricultural sales recorded to date and continues to lead the nation in agricultural cash,” explains Section 2 of Assembly Bill (AB) 1544. The bill highlights that California’s agricultural sales ranged between 36 billion dollars up to more than 38 billion since 2007.
AB 1544, the California Agricultural Jobs and Industry Stabilization Act of 2012—upon its approval—would allow undocumented farm and service-sector workers to stay in California lawfully. The bill, originally authored by Assembly Member Victor Manuel Perez (D-Coachella) on January 25th has gained attention by both political parties; within the first 8 weeks of the bill’s introduction, Linda Halderman (R-Fresno) signed as a co-author.
“Immigration has become the third rail of American politics. Whether it’s the predictable chorus from the right (“Deport them all!”) or the left (“Amnesty for all!”), these shouts are a loud excuse for politicians in both the Democratic and Republican parties to avoid serious immigration policy debate. Yet all Californians suffer from the refusal of Washington, D.C., and Sacramento to negotiate true immigration reform,” stated Halderman.
“Without an immigrant workforce there is no economy in the U.S. —specifically in the service industry,” Perez explained during an interview with AM 990’s talk radio host Miguel Arau during the afternoon of Saturday, April 14th. “It’s necessary for California to show other states that we are not afraid and we are against racism—and, that we are pro-immigrant.”
“There will be opposition,” noted Legislative Analyst Arnold Torres in the Fresno Bee editorial “State laws are no substitute for federal action on immigration” published March 30th. “This is a giant retreat from the idea that the United States is one nation, and a giant misstep toward a loose union of states.” 1 The Bee’s editorial added that such permits would provide a “false sense of hope” to employers and workers who are violating federal law because a state permit holder would not be protected from deportation in that state, or anywhere else in the U.S., nor would a worker’s permit protect employers who hire unauthorized migrants in violation of federal law.
“We all need to participate, we need to support Assembly Member Perez,” noted Arau. “We need to support at every level,” he added, stating that this legislation needs the approval of not only the California State Legislature but it also requires the United States Department of Labor to issue a waiver or authorization.
“This is an effort to create awareness, for everyone in this nation to acknowledge the huge contributions field workers provide to this economy and to the Nation.” While Torres is not yet clear on who will be opposing the bill, he strongly believes that this is the beginning of a huge debate.
AB 1544 is headed for a vote at the California Assembly Committee on Labor on April 18th. “We invite everyone to visit the Capital to support the bill,” remarked Arau. Ismael Cortez, President of the Honorific Mexican Commissionm is open to aide everyone who desires to write in support of the bill and/or to visit the Capital on April 18th. Should anyone desire to support the bill you may contact Cortez at (209) 688-8971.