[EDITOR'S NOTE] The State Assembly's Judiciary Committee voted down Tim Donnelly's AB26 in a 10-3 vote Tuesday. Another immigration reform bill, AB1028, requiring employers to verify legal status of prospective employees, was also rejected.
A week after a committee rejected Assemblyman Tim Donnelly’s bill to prevent illegal immigrant college students from receiving tuition breaks, Donnelly was in Sacramento Monday rallying lawmakers to pass a strict immigration reform bill modeled after Arizona’s SB 1070.
Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), who represents Monrovia in the 59th District, is pushing to make illegal presence a misdemeanor, eliminate sanctuary cities and impose stiffer sentences for those caught trafficking illegal immigrants across U.S. borders. The proposed bill will also apply more pressure on employers to use a federal online system to run background checks on workers.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee will hear the controversial Secure Immigration Enforcement Act Tuesday at 2 p.m.
“We want to raise the public’s awareness on this issue, because it is an illegal issue and quite frankly, we need to start treating it as such,” said Gregg Imus, Donnelly’s chief of staff. Imus said millions of undocumented immigrants are coming through U.S. borders unchecked, which the Pew Hispanic Center numbers at 11 million.
Imus said the bill differs from the Arizona bill on two aspects: anyone caught trafficking minors for sexual slavery would face life imprisonment and ten years would be added to a prison sentence to anyone found guilty of trafficking a woman into state borders and raping her.
The bill comes on the heels of Donnelly’s defeated AB63 that would have prevented CSU and community college students from receiving in-state tuition breaks.
The Assembly Higher Education Committee killed the bill in a 4-2 vote March 29.
According to current state legislation, undocumented students who have attended at least three years in a California high school are able to pay in-state resident tuition fees, which at is $26 per unit. Tuition for out-of-state residents is $220 per unit.
There are 240 undocumented students currently receiving in-state tuition breaks, according to the college's enrollment office.
“This would have absolutely had an impact on these students,” said Dr. Jeanne Hamilton, vice president of student services. “Many of them are lower income students, and I have no doubt they would have not been able to attend school [if this legislation took place].”
The bill would have also allowed in-state tuition rates to transferred military members, regardless if they had not completed three years at a California high school.
“We believed that tuition breaks should be offered to our military personnel, especially since that opportunity is currently offered to illegal immigrants,” said Imus. “That is not right.”
The committee passed another similar bill drafted by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, which would allow tuition discounts for military families.