A new bill introduced on Tuesday would give about 400,000 undocumented immigrants the same unemployment benefits and other government services as citizens.
The bill, called Assembly Bill 35 (AB 35), would give benefits to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as youths and have lead generally productive lives. This group is also part of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. AB 35 would give them the right to a California state ID card, unemployment benefits, and state administered medical services.
Roger Hernandez, who was named chairman of the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, proposed AB 35 according to the Sacramento Bee. He said in a written statement, “California embodies the greatest diversity in the world. We recognize we will need the collective skills and talents of these young immigrants to aid our state in reaching our true potential.” He added, “I am ready to carry my part in making sure their integration into our workforce, economy, and society becomes a reality.”
The proposed AB 35 follows the passing of a similar bill this year. Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation, effective on January 1, that allows participants in the federal program to obtain California driver’s licenses. California is the first state to issue driver’s licenses to participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. According to the Huffington Post, Brown has been praised for valuing “public safety over policy” by signing the bill.
AB 35 has been met with mixed reactions. Some favor the bill as a progressive step to integrating immigrants into society. Others argue against the bill, saying the expenses will inflict and cite California’s growing debt.
The proposed AB 35 could have a big impact on undocumented immigrants, including Irish immigrants who have left Ireland during the current economic downturn. If passed, the bill would make the U.S. a more desirable place for Irish immigrants over Canada, which has become a popular destination.