California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law some of the most comprehensive protections for undocumented immigrants in recent history with a new bill that empowers them to hold civic positions and expands student loan programs for Dreamers to cover graduate students within the state’s university system. These significant changes in the state’s policies regarding California’s undocumented population are set to take effect on New Year’s Day in 2020.
Angelica Salas, who works for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, praised the legislation to the Los Angeles Times, summing up, “Pro-immigrant policies are pro-California policies. If immigrants thrive, we all thrive.” After all, first- and second-generation immigrants make up nearly half of the state’s current population, according to a figure cited by the publication.
Announcing the legislation, Newsom acknowledged the contributions of immigrants within California, describing the new bill as a civic game changer. “Our state doesn’t succeed in spite of our diversity — our state succeeds because of it,” he said in a statement. “While Trump attacks and disparages immigrants, California is working to ensure that every resident — regardless of immigration status — is given respect and the opportunity to contribute.” California’s new bill also presents new protections for immigrants, making it illegal for them to be placed under arrest for immigration violations — which for all intents and purposes decriminalizes their status as illegal residents — and forbids immigration agents to be placed under civil arrest if they are within the confines of a state courthouse. While most of Newsom’s immigration-related bills have had a progressive aim, another recent bill that promotes participation in the Census was passed with bipartisan support.
Altogether, Gov. Newsom has signed nearly 900 bills all together in just one session at the helm, making him one of the most active state leaders in terms of passing legislation according to the Sacramento Bee. Many of the new laws are geared toward benefiting working-class families within the state. President Trump, in contrast, relies upon executive orders to get things done; he recently suggested that immigrants will not be allowed to apply for visas if they’re unable to afford healthcare. Additionally, today is the day that legal immigrants who use public financial assistance to survive in this country will be less likely to receive a green card than their more affluent or educated peers as the Trump administration prioritizes immigrants who supposedly will be less of a financial burden on taxpayers.