SACRAMENTO, CA — AB 1544, the California Agricultural Jobs and Industry Stabilization Act of 2012 that would allow undocumented farm and service-sector workers to stay in California lawfully, was approved on Wednesday, April 18, in the California Assembly Committee on Labor and is now ready to move to the next committee—the Appropriations Committee.
“California Agricultural industry depends on immigrant labor, 75 percent of this workforce is undocumented and not authorized to work legally in the state of California,” said Assemblymember Victor Manuel Perez (D-Coachella) who authored the bill.
“California growers are facing the choice of whether to violate employment law or to risk economic disaster,” said Perez. “As the largest economy in the country with the largest number of undocumented population in the nation, California has a responsibility to lend its voice in the debate of an immigration reform.”
However not all Latino rights organizations supported the new bill. Organizations like the California Immigrant Policy Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) voiced their opposition during the hearing.
“We opposed AB 1544 because it is unconstitutional and will create false expectations in the community, we must send the right message from California to the federal government,” said a former immigration attorney and legislative assistant from MALDEF.
Partisan attempts to address immigration reform in Washington have compelled many state legislatures across the nation to take their economic destiny into their own hands. But unlike states like Arizona and Utah, where the U.S. Justice Department has filed lawsuits challenging their non-tolerance immigration enforcement laws, AB 1544 asks for federal permission.
“California will not implement any provisions in this bill until the federal government agrees to grant us the necessary authority; we are not seeking to impose our authority on the federal government.”
An important clarification is that AB 1544 is not a guest worker program or a Bracero Program Part II: “it is an immigrant worker permit program for workers already living in California,” explained Perez.