California Ballot Initiative Takes on Immigration

California Ballot Initiative Takes on Immigration

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Editor's Note: Editors of La Opinión write that an initiative that could be on the California ballot in 2012 is "necessary" for immigrants in the state. The California Opportunity and Prosperity Act (COPA), introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, would allow qualifying undocumented immigrants to get tax ID numbers if they have lived in California for at least four years, have no felony convictions, and speak or are learning English. It would also call on state officials to ask the federal government not to arrest, detain or deport these individuals or their families. Supporters say the initiative, which could impact some 1 million immigrants in the state, could also generate $325 million in tax revenue.

Undocumented workers who have been in California for a long time working, behaving honestly and showing interest in becoming part of society by speaking or learning English and paying taxes should be brought out of the shadows. And what about bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars to needy state coffers along the way?

That is the basis of the California Opportunity and Prosperity Act (COPA), a ballot initiative that will be on the November 2012 ballot if the 504,760 valid signatures needed are collected by the middle of next year.

This proposal deserves the consideration of Californians, because it involves the security of finding out about millions of people who today are outside the radar. It is also an opportunity to integrate into society a group of hard workers who can contribute even more with their labor if they are not constantly under threat of deportation, all while increasing tax revenues by broadening the taxpayer base. In addition, the cost of the process would be paid by those who benefit from it.

On the other hand, this initiative is very different from those approved in states like Alabama and Arizona. California’s proposal, in addition to being more reasonable, needs coordination with the federal government in order to be implemented—therefore, it does not challenge federal authority as is the case with the states mentioned. This fact should make it significantly different from Arizona’s law, which the U.S. Supreme Court will review next year.

COPA is a reasonable initiative that began with bipartisan support. It reflects the feelings of a majority of Californians, who in poll after poll have said they favor some type of regularization for the undocumented who have worked honestly in our state for years.

This initiative is a good cause, and deserves financial efforts to gather signatures and the support of voters to put it on the ballot.

COPA deserves support to be included in next year’s ballot.