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Politics

Calif. GOP Lawmaker’s Bill Targets Sanctuary Cities, Illegal Immigration

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An Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent. (CBS)

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent. (CBS)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — A tea party member promoted an anti-illegal immigration bill Monday that is loosely modeled after one that drew attention to Arizona last year.

The bill by Republican state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino County would go after so-called sanctuary cities and employers who hire illegal immigrants. The Assembly Judiciary Committee was expected to consider the bill Tuesday.

It has little chance of surviving the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

AB26 does not include language similar to the most high-profile provision of the Arizona law, which directed law enforcement officers to check the citizenship status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. Critics said that provision encourages racial profiling.

The sponsor of the Arizona bill, state Senate President Russell Pearce, said at a rally Monday with Donnelly that his proposal was not divisive and merely enforces the law.

“Controversial with who? Those who support the law versus those who don’t?” said Pearce, a Republican.

Most portions of the Arizona law are on hold as it is being contested in federal court.

Donnelly, a state Minuteman founder who has been shown on TV constructing a border fence, said he is not anti-immigrant.

“One of the things I’ve always been in favor of is more legal immigration,” he said, adding that his wife descended from immigrants.

The lawmaker said the influx of immigrants should compel the United States to help Mexico tackle structural problems that encourage its citizens to migrate north.

He also raised the possibility of bringing in immigrants to work for part of the year before returning them to their home countries.

Other provisions of his bill would increase punishment of sex and drug traffickers and other smugglers. It calls for penalties to discourage day laborers who are in the country illegally and requires citizenship verification for anyone applying for public benefits.

The rally outside the Capitol included Los Angeles resident Jamiel Shaw, who told the crowd he backs the legislation after a criminal who was in the country illegally shot his son to death three years ago.

“Here we are giving you the American dream,” Shaw, 50, said of illegal immigrants, “and you’re giving us an American nightmare.”

A little more than 100 supporters, some from Southern California and members of the tea party, turned out on the Capitol steps. For much of the rally, shouts of “Si, se puede,” (“Yes, we can”) could be heard from a sizable group of protestors not far away.

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, of Los Angeles, also objected to Donnelly’s legislation. But the Democrat, who has tried multiple times to pass a law that would allow illegal aliens to get drivers’ licenses, showed no apprehension that this latest proposal would last long.

“It’s a bill that we’re not interested in, in California,” Cedillo said.

When asked about his slim odds, Donnelly said he had “faith” in Democrats.

“I’m always optimistic, and I never assume or speak for other people,” he said. “I assume they will take a thoughtful look at it and do the right thing.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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