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4 GOP state lawmakers endorse federal immigration overhaul

January 31, 2013 | 12:27 pm

076643.ME.0122.gorell.1This post has been updated. See the note below for details.

In a sign of changing political times, four California Republican lawmakers joined a dozen of their Democratic colleagues Thursday in announcing support for an overhaul of federal immigration law including a pathway to citizenship for those in the country illegally.

The news conference supporting a resolution urging congressional action was attended by GOP Assemblymen Katcho Achadjian of San Luis Obispo and Jeff Gorell of Camarillo as well as Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres).

[Updated, 12:37 p.m., Jan. 31: Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside) also attended the news conference supporting the resolution, bringing the number of GOP lawmakers to four, rather than three as a previous version of this post stated.]

With President Obama and a bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposing immigration measures, Gorell said he is encouraged something will happen. "The details I have read so far appear to be thoughtful reflection of the reality that we need to create a pathway to citizenship, while embracing common sense requirements of border security and an employment verification system going forward,’’ Gorell said in a statement issued before Thursday’s event.

Cannella also announced his support for a state bill providing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants who can provide documentation showing they have been paying taxes in the state, with the idea that obtaining a driver's license would require them to pass a driving safety test and have insurance.

"It’s not only a safety issue but it’s the right thing to do," Cannella said.

Cannella represents a farming area of the Central Valley, and a California Farm Bureau spokeswoman said agricultural businesses are struggling to find enough U.S. citizens to work in the fields.

With the number of Californian voters registered as Republican falling below 30%, Southern California activist Diana Colin suggested that the shift on immigration by some Republicans may be motivated by a need to get more support from Latinos. "The Republicans definitely know they need us in the next election," she said at the news conference.

Cannella denied he was motivated by politics, saying it was futile now to try to stand in the way of immigration reform. "This is going to happen. If anybody wants to get in the way they are going to get steamrolled over," he said.


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Photo: Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell of Camarillo. Credit: Bob Carey / Los Angeles Times