California has so far managed to avoid the mistake made by Alabama, Arizona and other states that have sought to enact local immigration laws even though that is an area that is rightly the responsibility of the federal government. But that may soon change.
A bipartisan effort led by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar) and Mike Madrid, a former political director of the state Republican Party, hopes to place the California Opportunity and Prosperity Act, or COPA, on the November ballot. The proposal would allow undocumented immigrants who have been in the state since 2007, have no criminal record, speak English and are employed and pay taxes to join a state immigration registry. California officials would then submit that list to federal authorities, asking them to make those immigrants a low priority for deportation.
Supporters argue that COPA wouldn't conflict with federal law because it wouldn't prevent enforcement efforts. Rather, they say, it is simply a request that the Obama administration stick to the priorities it announced last year. The administration vowed to focus its enforcement efforts on illegal immigrants with criminal histories given that it doesn't have the resources to deport all of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants believed to be living in the United States.