A Customs and Border Protection agent makes an arrest. Photo courtesy Department of Homeland Security
A Customs and Border Protection agent makes an arrest. Photo courtesy Department of Homeland Security

The vote was barely noticed on a Friday before the long Presidents Day weekend, but the California State Senate sent Washington a surprisingly strong message on immigration reform.

The chamber unanimously approved a resolution saying undocumented immigrants deserve a path to citizenship.

The language of the resolution is gracious and magnanimous, in marked contrast to the anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic venom on talk radio, in Internet chat rooms and even sometimes in the halls of the nation’s capitol. Some excerpts:

  • “This country was built by immigrants seeking a better life.”
  • “Immigrants are a vital and productive part of our state’s economy.”
  • “They also represent a large share of our new small business owners and create economic prosperity and needed jobs for everyone.”
  • “Keeping these families, business owners, and hard workers in the shadows of society serves no one.”
  • “Comprehensive immigration reform should include a reasonable and timely path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are already living and working in the United States.”
  • “Immigration enforcement should continue to focus on criminals, not on hardworking immigrant families.”
  • “Reform should offer permanent residency opportunities to international students in American universities who are highly trained and in high demand.”

Even more surprising, this was authored by a Republican, Sen. Andy Vidak from Hanford in the Central Valley, at a time when his colleagues in Congress are holding hostage funding for the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to reverse President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

“Unanimous, bipartisan support from the California Senate should send a clear message to our federal colleagues that the time is now to work together to address an issue that’s been ignored for more than 25 years,” said Vidak on Friday.

To be sure, the resolution has the qualification “after they gain legal status,” and the state Senate passed a similar resolution two years ago, but in the current politically charged atmosphere, it’s a strikingly clear message.

To reiterate: Lawmakers in the most populous state, with the largest number of undocumented immigrants, want Congress to create a path to citizenship. Our state senators aren’t talking about deporting 11 million people, but instead helping them onto the road to citizenship

The resolution probably won’t do much to solve the immigration crisis, but it may make you proud to be a Californian.

Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.