May 23, 2016
Just this week, on May 23, 2016, California celebrated its annual Immigrant Day for the 20th time. Twenty years ago this month, in order to speak out against hateful, anti-immigrant laws, a group of immigrant community leaders, clergy, and advocates gathered from all over the state to Sacramento, the state capitol, where state laws are made and passed. This year’s immigrant day included hundreds of pro-immigration activists and leaders, ready to help California and its lawmakers push a progressive immigration agenda.
A Nation of Immigration
This year, Immigrant Day is as relevant as ever. A spike in deeply hateful sentiments targeting the immigrant communities has left our nation divided. The nation needs California to lead and continue to champion inclusive policies which recognize immigrants’ deep roots and contributions to our communities.
California’s leadership is needed now more than ever. The Department of Homeland Security recently announced another controversial series of nationwide raids targeting asylum seekers from Central America, following a set of raids that happened already in the beginning of this year. At the same time, a divided and incomplete Supreme Court attempts to determine the fate of the long-awaited DAPA and expanded DACA programs, which would provide temporary relief for millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Even the established DACA program and its beneficiaries hold a breath as President Obama’s term nears an end, with the future of DACA shrouded by the unconventional and unpredictable presidential race.
Indeed, the current presidential race for the U.S. presidency has thrust immigration further into the national spotlight. Powerful anti-immigrant rhetoric and bizarre proposals, together with an anti-establishment sentiment, have injected immigration discourse into the U.S. society. Meanwhile, our Central American neighbors suffer extreme violence and humanitarian crises, sending thousands of refugees to our border. Likewise, across the world, a Syrian refugee crisis becomes more and more difficult for the U.S. to ignore.
What is California Doing About It?
The progressive Immigrant Day proposals in California seek to hold the federal government more accountable for deportation programs, help with inclusion of undocumented immigrants in health care, uphold worker and civil rights, and more.
The TRUTH Act passes the CA Assembly on Immigrant Day!
The TRUTH Act, AB 2792, seeks to hold Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) accountable for acts and strategies that force local law enforcement to be thrust into playing roles in federal deportations. The bill creates a more transparent process before local law enforcement can work with ICE, and it gives local communities a voice through their leaders. It requires local law enforcement to first reach an agreement with city council and county leaders about the terms and conditions of any participation in deportations, and to check with compliance with the prior TRUST act.
Other immigration-related bills for the Immigrant Day platform included SB 10 and SB 14, which would expand access to health care, SB 1015, which would continue the successful Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, and AB 2298, which would bring more accountability and transparency to gang databases that often lead to discrimination against immigrants and minorities.
In a nation with a divided and unclear future, California’s Immigrant Day priorities, including the passage of the TRUTH Act, are a breath of fresh air and compromise. Hopefully, the rest of the U.S. can learn from, and follow, the progressive and productive California society and its lawmakers.
For more information about Immigrant Day and relevant issues: