California Group Pushes Initiative Modeled on Arizona’s Immigration-Status Law

Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times, November 24, 2010

Proponents of a California initiative modeled after Arizona’s controversial immigration law may begin gathering signatures to place the measure on the ballot in 2012, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Tuesday.

The measure would require state and local law enforcement officers to investigate the immigration status of anyone they lawfully stop and “reasonably” suspect may be in the country illegally. It would also make it a crime for illegal immigrants to seek work while concealing their legal status and for employers to “intentionally or negligently” hire them.

Initiative proponent Michael Erickson would need to collect signatures from 433,971 registered voters by April 21, 2011, to qualify it for the ballot. If it is validated, the measure could be placed before voters in February or June of 2012.

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Unlike the Arizona law, the California proposal specifies that law enforcement officers must verify immigration status “in a timely manner at the scene of the stop or detainment” and may only do so through information provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or other federal agencies.

Erickson said the proponents decided to introduce an initiative in California before the Arizona legal battle had run its course in part because they were concerned about the spillover effects of the Arizona law.

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Fiscal review of the proposed measure by the state’s legislative analyst and finance director noted that it could lead to “potentially significant cost savings” in government services provided to illegal immigrants. But the analysis also pointed out that the measure could lead to tens of millions of dollars in increased costs to the criminal justice system to arrest, prosecute and detain migrants.

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