California leads with immigration reform

California leads with immigration reformWhile the immigration reform bill that passed in the Senate in June last year later ended up stalling when it came to the House of Representatives, advocates for immigration reform have set their sights on 2014 as the year in which it will finally take place.

Although many Republican members of the House of Representatives are against such legislation, the House may be forced to give in to popular opinion given the nationwide shift in immigration policy that is underway.  Several states, led by California, have been reforming their policies toward immigration, with new laws signed by Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, having expanded the access that immigrants have to work, transport and education, according to MSNBC.

“The year 2013 was a complete reversal on this issue,” notes New York University’s Migration Policy Institute director Muzaffer Chishti, whose job includes researching the immigration policies of US states.  “In many ways, you could say California has become the anti-Arizona.”  Starting this year, undocumented immigrants in California are now allowed to legally gain driver’s licenses that enable them to drive and buy auto insurance without the fear of being deported as a consequence.

Similar legislation was also passed by Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Colorado and Connecticut last year, with such licenses having only previously been issued by Washington, Utah and New Mexico.  States have been pushed into passing laws to enhance the rights of immigrants because of the gridlock in Congress.