Sen. Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins at Tuesday's announcement in Sacramento. Courtesy Atkins' office
Sen. Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins at Tuesday’s announcement in Sacramento. Courtesy Atkins’ office

California state legislators introduced a package of 10 bills Tuesday designed to protect undocumented immigrants while immigration reform remains stalled in Congress.

“With these bills California will again show the kind of practical, humane, and forward-thinking leadership that we hope can move the needle on the national discussion,” said Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins, who represents the 78th District in San Diego.

“The Immigrants Shape California legislative package will not erase all the challenges our undocumented residents face. The work is far from finished,” said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León of Los Angeles. “But this package demonstrates our commitment to making California a state that works for all of us.”

Also supporting the measures is State Sen. Marty Block, who represents the 39th District in San Diego and is chair of the Legislative Jewish Caucus.

The 10 bills introduced Tuesday are:

  • SB 10 — Establishes the California Office of New Americans to ensure that California has a comprehensive approach to immigrant integration.
  • SB 4 — Extends access to healthcare coverage through Medi-Cal to all Californians, regardless of immigration status.
  • AB 622 — Strengthens the state labor code to protect immigrant workers from unscrupulous employers.
  • SB 600 — Amends the Unruh Civil Rights Act to make it unlawful for businesses to discriminate against a person on the basis of their immigration status, citizenship or language.
  • AB 60 — Protects Californians from immigration attorneys and consultants demanding advanced payment for services related to a pending immigration reform acts, such as President Obama’s executive actions.
  • SB 674 — Ensures all immigrant victims of crime in California have the opportunity to apply for the federal Victim of Crime Visa, or U-Visa.
  • AB 899 — Protects immigrant children by safeguarding their records from unauthorized disclosure to federal immigration officials that may result in a child’s deportation.
  • AB 1343 — Avoids unintended detention and deportation by requiring defense counsel to provide accurate and affirmative advice and defense against such consequences.
  • AB 900 — Aligns California law with federal immigration law to allow for the maximum number of youth in California to receive humanitarian relief.
  • AB 1352 — Ends unintended immigration consequences for immigrants who successfully complete deferred entry of judgment programs, which are alternatives to court proceedings that allow offenders to participate in drug rehabilitation treatments.

Backers of the legislation said California’s millions of immigrants are a source of innovation and economic growth.

Undocumented immigrants make up 10 percent of the state’s workforce and pay over $2 billion annually in state and local taxes, an amount that would increase if they became legal residents.

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