Brown’s Looming Challenge: Perks for Aliens or Relief for Taxpayers?

Published on November 18th, 2010

When Arnold Schwarzenegger won the 2003 special election that ousted sitting governor Gray Davis, concerned Californians hoped that as a legal immigrant and American citizen he would launch a sincere effort to combat illegal entry into the state. By then, Californians realized that more immigration created overpopulation which resulted in sprawl as well as school, hospital and jail overcrowding. Californians also anticipated that since Davis was reviled for his role in overturning Proposition 187, Schwarzenegger would be savvy to the state’s growing intolerance for unchecked illegal immigration. In 1999, Davis had entered into a back room agreement with U.S. District Court Judge Mariana Pfaelzer to kill Prop. 187, a bill that banned non-emergency services for illegal aliens that had passed in a general election with a 59 percent majority. Then in 2003, in a callous reelection ploy Davis signed a bill, repealed by lawmakers when Schwarzenegger became governor that would have given illegal aliens driver’s licenses. Early optimism that Schwarzenegger would become a vocal enforcement proponent soon vanished, however. Schwarzenegger was, after all, a Hollywood elitist and married to a Kennedy. His standing in those pro-open borders circles outweighed any personal immigration enforcement commitment he may have felt. Nevertheless, on two crucial immigration related issues, Schwarzenegger was solid. On multiple occasions during his two terms, Schwarzenegger vetoed bills authored by State Senator Gil Cedillo to issue licenses to aliens. Last month, Schwarzenegger also vetoed two bills that would have offered in-state tuition to illegal aliens. S.B. 1460, the California Dream Act and A.B. 1413 would have allowed any student, regardless of immigration status, who attended a California high school for three years to receive the same in-state tuition fee paid by legal California residents. Now however, with Schwarzenegger going out and governor-elect Jerry Brown coming in, licenses and discounted tuition fees for aliens may eventually become law. Cedillo will likely introduce new license and tuition legislation that may pass the Democratic, Hispanic-dominated state houses. When the bills reach Brown’s desk, the probability based on his history is that he will sign them. Over the years, Brown’s immigration advocacy is remarkable. In the 1990s Brown hosted a radio program which he used as a forum to ravage Proposition 187 calling it a “total fraud” that laid the ground for “a fascist state” and claimed that it “…harkens back to Germany and the camps that the Japanese were put into…” As a foundation for his arguments, Brown rhetorically asked his listeners: “We used to be under a Mexican flag, remember?” More than a decade has passed and millions more illegal aliens have arrived since Brown made his startling comments, plenty of time for a rational adult to come to grips with reality. However, just three weeks ago, Brown made another shocking speech at UCLA.  Brown promised that the California DREAM Act would be “one of the first bills” he would sign. While there’s little encouragement in Brown’s record of championing illegal immigration, hope remains that once the governor-elect comes face to face with California’s $20 billion deficit, discounted university tuition which would add to the state’s debt may not seem like such a good idea. And as Brown copes with the California’s relentless 12 percent plus unemployment, the housing crisis and the continued exodus of taxpaying citizens to other states, he may not find issuing driver’s licenses to aliens a high priority. Now that Brown is elected, one thing to look for as an indicator is how often between now and his January inauguration he repeats his promises to illegal immigrants. The less Brown says, the better Californians’ chances are of surviving pro-alien legislation.

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