Tuesday, September 1, 2015
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Morality in America

Morality in America

When studying the founding of the United States, you can’t help but encounter the faith of the nation’s forefathers. Time and again they recognized God’s hand in the shaping of America. You will find Him repeatedly mentioned in their words and documents. And you will find Him having an active, vibrant role in the country’s early history.

Today, God continues His work in America – but it’s in a nation that has clearly lost its moral compass. Every week, “Morality in America” will address the myriad of moral concerns facing the United States and undermining its Godly heritage.  After you read, remember to intercede in prayer for America – that this nation will return to the Christian standards that once defined it.

Golden State Side-Step

Morality in America

Is California quietly developing state-level citizenship?

By Gigi Cook

There are 11.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States today. The national debate on immigration rages, but while everyone is talking about immigration, one state, California, is quietly moving past the conversation and forward with its own program for local integration.

“The California Package” a term used in referring to a dozen or more laws passed since 2001, collectively re-designs the state’s relationship with the undocumented population. It is being touted by some as laying the ground work for state-level citizenship.

According to a policy brief published by the University of California-Riverside, California’s unique set of laws provide a “never before seen level of opportunity and freedom of movement to unauthorized immigrants.” Public Policy Professor Karthick Ramakrishnan says the package is more progressive than the immigration reform President Obama is currently advocating.

Most recently, California’s legislature passed a bill removing the word “alien” from the state’s labor laws, complementing the expansion of healthcare access to all undocumented children. Many of the children impacted are protected from deportation under the White House’s 2012 “DREAMers” deferred action program.

California is also setting aside funds to insure the undocumented. The bill Gov. Jerry Brown signed provides Medicaid coverage to roughly 170,000 children at a cost of $132 million per year. In a national first, Sen. Ricardo Lara is sponsoring a bill to expand that coverage to allow undocumented residents access to Obamacare insurance.

Gabrielle Lessard, a health policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center says: “In the absence of federal action on comprehensive immigration reform, states and immigrant communities are just tired of waiting. It makes more sense for them as individuals, for the community as a whole and for the health care system.”

In other policy moves, the state has re-formed education qualifications for in-state tuition based on the number of years any person has spent in the K-12 system rather than their immigrant status. In 2014, the state passed a law requiring professional licensing boards to consider all applicants regardless of immigration status. Unauthorized immigrants are able to qualify for the California state bar, and by 2016 they’ll be eligible for 40 state professional licenses.

The federal government maintains a database called E-Verify that allows companies to easily check the authorization status of potential employees. California bans any municipality from instituting such a requirement.

Currently all California residents can obtain a driver’s license regardless of immigration status.  While this is the law in 10 other states, in California more than half of new driver’s licenses are issued to unauthorized immigrants.

Another measure awaiting Gov. Brown’s approval, the California Agricultural Act establishes a work permit program allowing undocumented workers already living in the state to work lawfully in the agricultural industry. Opponents say the bill will in essence create a legal slave-labor class of residents.

While only Congress can change a resident’s immigration status, other states are also dramatically changing their laws. Connecticut has extended eligibility for in-state tuition and driver’s licenses to its undocumented population and has recently passed a similar law called “the Trust Act” limiting deportations. In 2014, President Obama attempted an executive action that would also expand deportation relief to almost half of the undocumented population; the action is on hold due to a lawsuit to stop the move.

Dan Stein, President of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), says California’s moves signal a weakening in the enforcement of immigration laws. “If you see a camel’s nose under the tent, it’s not too long before the whole camel will be in the tent or the tent will be on the ground,” he laments. According to FAIR, illegal immigration costs California taxpayers more than $25 billion annually.

As reported by The Christian Post, “some lawmakers, mostly conservative Republicans, are calling for federal legislation to cut off funding for states and sanctuary cities for refusing to cooperate with or inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.” Such legislation was blocked in the United States Senate, but passed the House.

Despite calls for immigration reform, supporters say the “California Package” is more than a personal promise, calling it is a set of laws designed to operate parallel to national citizenship. They boast that  California is boldly moving away from the federal immigration quagmire into a state-designed integration program. Those wanting immigration reform want leadership from the federal government and for states to enforce those policies.

People of faith should pray that:

Gigi Cook's work has been featured in major radio markets, media publications and corporate leadership programs. She is a writer, speaker, and program facilitator with a Masters Degree in psychology.  Residing in Salt Lake City, Gigi enjoys her family, her work, and restoring American Antiques.

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