Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento made one thing crystal clear Tuesday as they touted a package of 10 bills aimed at expanding the rights of undocumented Californians: They are doing this because Congress will not.
Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León said the bills, which would expand legal rights and protections to the state's estimated 2.5 million undocumented immigrants, are the "direct reflection of the brokenness of Washington, D.C."
"This is a reflection of the dereliction of duty of these members of Congress -- either their intellectual laziness or lack of work ethic on this issue," said de León (D-Los Angeles). "Today we remind the rest of the nation that California is different -- we respect immigrants and recognize the contributions they have made to this state. From the very beginning, we have served as a model for the country."
The bills tackle a wide range of issues, including health care access, civil rights protections, due process for those accused of crimes and help for victims of crimes.
Taken together, said Angie Junck, an attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco, the proposed laws will "right many wrongs that currently exist in the federal immigration system."