California to Finance Legal Assistance to Central Americans; Goal: Citizenship

Published on August 22nd, 2014

By Joe Guzzardi
August 22, 2014

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and other Latino Legislative Caucus members have cynically announced legislation that will help Central American illegal immigrants remain in California. The misguided, politically motivated move will further undermine the state’s long-term fiscal stability and, over the short term, erode the decayed public school system, one of the nation’s worst.

The bill diverts $3 million in taxpayer monies toward what Brown in his press release called “qualified non-profits.” Brown’s goal is to help the minors achieve special immigrant juvenile status that leads to expedited citizenship.

Harris said that the children are fleeing violence and should have access to due process and legal representation. Various California lawmakers made impassioned pleas that since the children face deadly threats in their home countries, they should be given safe haven in the United States.

Unasked and therefore unanswered questions are first: do the so called children, at least 50 percent of which are young adults or older, qualify for refugee status?  Second, what about paying more attention to the six million poor Californians, native-born and illegal immigrants, who are already struggling?

The 2008 Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Protection Act, the legislation that allegedly protects the minors, is clear:  it excludes most of the Central American 60,000 aliens. According to the act, only those who have been trafficked or coerced qualify. The nightly news has displayed dozens of images of the minors with their adult companions voluntarily walking into the U.S. after they have been smuggled to the border. Smuggling cannot be confused with trafficking.

I’ve lived in Central America. The hearsay claims that aliens are escaping certain death is highly exaggerated. Central Americans like many others who enter the U.S. unlawfully are coached on what to say to immigration officials and lawyers to increase the probability of their being granted legal authorization to remain.

Accommodating more illegal aliens is another nail in California’s coffin. Take it from me, a California native who left in disgust in more than five years ago, the state is a mess. More people, consuming more resources, and gobbling up more tax dollars is the last thing California needs.

Millions of middle class Californians have left. Nevertheless, California’s population is above 38 million. Between 2000 and 2010, 5 million new residents were added through immigration and children born to immigrants.

More impoverished Central Americans into California’s mix solidifies the state’s position as the nation’s poorest. More than 30 percent of Californians are on welfare, contributing to its $1.1 trillion debt. California’s top tax rate of 13.3 percent may soon go higher.

Like all California residents, the Central Americans will consume water, state’s scarcest resource. California is in the third year of its current drought. Previous dry spells have lasted 20 years according to Scott Stine, a Cal State East geography and environmental studies professor.

Forbes Magazine sums up California’s dreary reality this way: “High debt, high taxes and high poverty are not exactly the foundation on which to add 7-12 million more people.” The California Department of Finance projects that California’s population will exceed 50 million in 2049 and grow to nearly 53 million by 2060.

Brown, Harris and the Latino Caucus need a wake-up call. The world has 3 billion poorer, more desperate humans than does Central America. The U.S accepts more immigrants annually than any nation and can’t fiscally or environmentally afford to take more. Today is a good day to begin to humanely repatriate the Central Americans back homes.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]

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