Arizona-style immigration law proposed for California ballot

November 23, 2010

A ballot measure that would make it state crimes to hire an illegal immigrant and for illegal immigrants to seek work under false pretenses will soon be circulating on the streets of California. The measure’s sponsors have been given the go-ahead by the secretary of state to begin collecting signatures to place their proposal on the ballot.

The proposal is patterned after a controversial Arizona law, but its sponsors say it has features that will make it more likely to withstand a constitutional challenge.

The measure was submitted by Michael Erickson, a former Sonoma County Republican Party chairman and an activist in the Tea Party movement. He runs a web site called “Republicans for the National Interest.”

In an essay he titled “Can California be Salvaged?” Erickson wrote that he believed “lower middle class” tradesmen and “Poor Hispanics” will find common cause “as both see that they are equally victims of a system of illegal immigration that just perpetuates the exploitation of the poor by the elites, all in the name of ‘social justice’ and ‘welcoming everyone.’”

The measure would require law enforcement officers who stop or detain a person where “reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is here illegally to make an effort to determine the person’s immigration status. The proposal would prohibit police from stopping a person solely because they suspect him or her is here illegally, and it requires police to adhere to federal immigration law and the US and California constitutions.

The proposal would impose a fine of $5,000 and revocation of a business license on the second offense for employers who negligently hire an illegal immigrant. Employers who are found to intentionally hire someone who is in the country illegally would face a $10,000 fine and loss of their business license. It would also be illegal for anyone to impede traffic by stopping their car to pick up a day laborer looking for work.

Erickson has until April 21 to collect 434,000 valid signatures.

-Daniel Weintraub

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