California Senate Embraces Lawlessness

By Jon Feere and Jon Feere on October 8, 2009

The California state Senate recently passed a resolution in support of non-enforcement of immigration law. It was authored by State Senator Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), a man who has made a name for himself by constantly pushing for driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. The resolution’s purpose is to “urge Congress and the President of the United States to declare an immediate moratorium” on the enforcement of certain immigration laws until an amnesty is passed on the federal level. While the resolution does not have the force of law, it does illustrate how radical some lawmakers are in their support for open borders. It passed the Senate by a margin of 23-14.

The resolution states that the State of California “strives to enable all residents” – including “undocumented immigrants” – “to work and live free from discrimination, exploitation, and repressive federal immigration enforcement.”

The California Senate is now on record supporting the illegal employment of illegal aliens. In their own words, the California Senate strives to enable illegal aliens to work. Despite the language of this resolution, it is not discrimination to deny someone the ability to work illegally. Furthermore, preventing illegal employment actually helps to reduce exploitation, as businesses are forced to offer better wages and safe working conditions in order to attract legal labor. This resolution arguably demands the continued exploitation of illegal labor.

The resolution laments the fact that President Obama, the nation’s chief law enforcer, is doing his job:

The Obama administration, in order to take action and implement some type of enforcement while federal comprehensive immigration reform is considered, has shifted its focus to an ‘enforcement only’ policy in the form of aggressive unprecedented enforcement against employers who hire immigrants…

Of course, the last clause should read: “against employers who hire illegal aliens.” The requirement that businesses not hire illegal aliens was made law in the last “comprehensive immigration reform” amnesty of 1986 (the Immigration Reform and Control Act). Since Cedillo and the California legislature are openly opposing the enforcement component of that reform effort, why should they be trusted to support a new amnesty that comes with promises of enforcement?

The California Senate also laments the fact that law-breaking employers are being held accountable for violating federal law:

Companies such as…American Apparel…have been drastically affected by the aggressive enforcement of immigration laws

American Apparel, a garment manufacturing company and long-time supporter of illegal alien amnesty, recently had to fire at least 1,800 employees after ICE uncovered massive workplace violations. American Apparel reportedly faces a possible fine of over $800 per illegal hiring. In other words, the rule of law is being protected. Most would consider this a good thing.

While use of E-Verify can protect businesses from such fallout, and while ICE was simply doing its job, the California Senate opposes such measures in the new resolution:

Raids, employer audits, and mandatory use of the E-Verify system harm immigrants, their employers, their communities, and our economy and are disruptive to communities where immigrants have settled and contribute to the growth of local communities

It’s doubtful that the legal immigrants and citizens who will soon fill the jobs vacated by the 1,800 illegal aliens consider law enforcement harmful to the community or the economy. But the California Senate doesn’t understand this, claiming:

If workers targeted by these enforcement efforts were removed from the workforce, the effects would ripple through many industries as they would face substantial shortages of workers

It is unlikely that the United States has a shortage of workers to fill jobs left vacant by illegal aliens, particularly in the current economic climate. In fact, in a recent study the Center for Immigration Studies found that many low-wage jobs considered to be “immigrant” jobs are, in reality, often held by native-born Americans (e.g., 75 percent of janitors are native-born, as are 65 percent of construction laborers, and 65 percent of landscapers). The number of native-born people and legal immigrants holding these jobs might be even higher if businesses were more frequently held accountable for hiring illegal aliens.

Furthermore, in another study the Center for Immigration Studies' Jerry Kammer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, found that after ICE cracked down on Swift & Co. meat processing plants for hiring illegal aliens, two things happened: legal residents lined up for jobs and wages and bonuses rose on average 8 percent. For some reason, the California Senate does not want this ripple effect to happen in the Golden State.

The Senate resolution also attempts to characterize illegal immigration as a benefit to the tax base. But according to an extensive report by the Center for Immigration Studies’ Steven Camarota:

Lower household income coupled with larger household size means that, on average, illegal-alien households will pay less in taxes and use more in services than native households because households are the primary basis on which taxes are assessed and benefits distributed in the United States. Even assuming that illegals pay all the taxes they are supposed to, it is difficult, given their average household income and size, for illegals not to create a significant fiscal drain.

Camarota also notes that in California, around 60 percent of illegal aliens live in or near poverty. Fourty-eight percent of illegal-alien headed households in California use at least one major welfare program. Sixty-five percent of illegal aliens are uninsured in California, representing 27 percent of the state’s uninsured population.

In fact, a legalization of illegal aliens will likely increase costs to taxpayers because the aliens will then have greater access to welfare programs, and will be able to petition to bring in more family that may also be able to access the once-off-limits taxpayer-subsidized benefits.

Since California is home to approximately one-quarter of the nation’s illegal alien population, one would think that the state Senate would be interested in reducing the negative impact of illegal immigration. Instead, they are embracing lawlessness.