State immigration laws usually offer more enforcement, rules, and regulations that exacerbate the effects of our already-restrictive immigration laws.
This time, California is making an exception. A new California law, AB 1544, proposed by Assemblyman Manuel Perez, D-Coachella, and originally coauthored by Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, R-Fresno, who has since removed her support, sets up a state work permit (subject to federal approval) to legalize many unauthorized immigrants in California.
Unauthorized immigrants make up the majority of farmworkers in California, as they do in many other states. Many unauthorized immigrants also labor in the service, light manufacturing, and food-preparation sectors. Native-born Americans would have to take a big pay cut to work in these industries, something most are not willing to do.
Bringing these workers into the legal market will help California's economy and, consequently, expand the tax base. California's proposed immigration law will expand the size of the market rather than shrinking it, as immigration laws in Alabama, Arizona, and Georgia have done.
Intractable deficits are forcing Californians to rethink how they deal with unauthorized immigration, just as the desire for taxing alcohol — not a sobering realization that banning alcohol was a failure — was the straw that broke the back of Prohibition in 1934.