An initiative to give residency permits to immigrants living in California illegally is gaining momentum in the country’s most populated state, where backers of the measure are gearing up to begin collecting signatures to get the proposal before voters in 2016, according to Los Angeles Daily News. The California Immigration Reform Act would require permit holders to pay state income taxes and bar the state from using public funds to aid federal immigration enforcement.
Backers, who gained permission to begin collecting signatures Wednesday, have until Dec. 21 to get the required 365,880 signatures from registered California voters to put the initiative on the 2016 ballot. Immigrants who take part in the program would not have to show proof of immunizations until they apply for permanent residence cards, which would be made available only after five years of living in the state. The permits would establish an official arrival date in the country and give immigrants a tax identification number to allow them to attend school or apply for jobs.
“If you come forward, register, pay state income taxes and get your immunizations, California will allow you to stay in California and you will be here legally, at least as far as California is concerned,” Louis J. Marinelli, president of Sovereign California, Inc., the group behind the initiative, said in a statement.
California Gov. Jerry Brown has typically supported immigration reform legislation in the state. Last year, Brown signed a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for state licenses to work in a number of professions, including as doctors and dentists. "I think Gov. Brown has been an active participant as it relates to taking leadership on immigrant issues in the state," Ronald Coleman of the California Immigrant Policy Center told ABC News 10. "[Immigration] advocates and the governor haven't always agreed but I think the governor has always shown good intent to make sure we can do the right things to meet the needs of our state residents."