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6 Dec, 2016 04:05

California lawmakers resolve to protect illegal immigrants from Trump deportation

California lawmakers resolve to protect illegal immigrants from Trump deportation

California lawmakers are throwing down the gauntlet to President-elect Donald Trump in a struggle to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. Local legislators passed resolutions challenging “overly aggressive” immigration policies.

Both chambers of the California State Legislature have agreed to take a stand against Trump’s incoming administration, specifically with regards to immigration.

“Immigrants are vital to many of California’s industries such as technology, healthcare, agriculture, construction, hospitality, and domestic services,” two identical resolutions read. “Immigrants also represent a large percentage of small business owners and create economy prosperity and needed jobs for everyone.”

Monday marked the first day of the new legislative session, in which immigration matters were one of the hottest topics on the agenda.

According to the resolutions, undocumented workers contribute $130 billion to California’s gross domestic product and pay billions in state and local taxes, as they make up nearly one-tenth of the state’s workforce.

In the words of Chair of the Latino Legislative Caucus, Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), the resolutions send “clear message to undocumented Californians that we won’t turn our backs on them.”

“We will do everything in our power to protect them from unjustified deportation,” Hueso, an author of one of the two bills, said. If passed into law, his “Due Process For All Act,” or SB 6, would fund legal representation for noncitizens facing deportation.

The second bill, AB 3, goes hand-in-hand with Hueso’s. Authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), it would set up training centers to educate legal workers on immigration law.

“The fear in our communities has reached an all-time high in the aftermath of the November 2016 election, and California must protect our residents’ due process rights in these life and death proceedings,” Hueso’s office said in a fact sheet, cited by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

While running for office, Trump promised to deport an estimated 11 million migrants who are in the US illegally. Up to 3 million of them, according to lawmakers, call California their home and may face deportation, should Trump stand by his campaign promises.

Republican members have taken Trump’s side, saying Democrats demonized the President-elect, who is not yet in office.

“To throw down a gauntlet and say ‘here we go’ without ever having time to discuss this” is inappropriate, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside) said, according to the Sacramento Bee. Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) said the tactic “seeks to flare up tension between communities.”

"I'm not comfortable with saying we will fight, although I understand it. I think we ought to try to work with this administration," Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) echoed. "We should be collaborative. I don't think defiance is the right approach." 

So far, California is the first state that has made a real attempt to help migrants, but it may not be the only one.

The mayors of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have all vowed to resist the federal government if it seeks to deport undocumented immigrants.

Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the creation of a $1 million fund that will be run with the National Immigrant Justice Center to help with legal consultations and representation for undocumented migrants.

In November, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told Trump that he would do all he can to prevent the large-scale deportation of immigrants.

"I reiterated to him that this city and so many cities around the country will do all we can to protect our residents and to make sure that families are not torn apart,” he said.