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California lawmaker proposes benefits for undocumented immigrants

December 12, 2012 |  1:25 pm

  Assemblyman Roger Hernandez wants to expand government benefits for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who qualify for a new federal work-permit program

A California lawmaker wants to expand government benefits for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who qualify for a new federal work-permit program.

Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) introduced legislation this week aimed at illegal immigrants who are part of an Obama administration protocol that allows undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16, and who are now 30 or younger and meet certain other criteria, to obtain work permits.

The bill, AB 35, would enable those immigrants to obtain state identification cards and receive unemployment benefits and state-administered medical services. This year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that will allow that group of young immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

"I am focused on restoring California's strong economy and competitiveness throughout the world," Hernandez said in a statement. "As such, we just cannot afford to turn our backs on our young immigrant students, especially those who have proven success in their academic and employment achievements."

Lawmakers are also pursuing other immigration measures.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has reintroduced the so-called Trust Act -- a proposal to bar local officials from helping federal authorities deport undocumented immigrants unless the immigrants have been convicted of, or charged with, a serious or violent felony.

Immigration activists say that aggressive deportation efforts have discouraged illegal immigrants -- and victims of domestic violence in particular -- from reporting crimes.

Brown vetoed a similar proposal earlier this year.

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-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

twitter.com/mjmishak

Photo: Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D–West Covina). Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

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