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California lawmakers seek relief for illegal immigrants to work in state

August 23, 2012 |  1:14 pm

The state would offer safe haven to illegal immigrants living and working in California as long as they abide by certain conditions, including the payment of state income taxes, under a last-minute bill introduced by state lawmakers.

The program would be available to immigrants who came to California before 2008, who have no felony convictions and who know or are learning English. Those who pay a fee would be enrolled in the program administered by the state Department of Justice. The program would only go forward if the federal government agrees to participate by making the residents the lowest priority for immigration enforcement.

SB 901 was introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento);co-authors include Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar).

Fuentes estimates up to 2 million illegal immigrants would pay the state about $325 million in taxes to help the state with its budget problem "while decriminalizing the labor of hard working immigrants."

The bill asks the governor to petition the president and immigration officials to exempt participants from enforcement actions and allow them to accept jobs. "While Washington has failed to address the issue of immigration for nearly a quarter century, this is another opportunity for California to lead the way on an important policy issue," Fuentes said.

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento 

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