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Cal State Document

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Nowhere in the United States has immigration become as controversial a political issue as in California. In the 1980s, immigrants accounted for one-third of the nation's population growth, with California absorbing about half of the newcomers. The recent recession has prompted some to blame the State's complex problems - such as unemployment, crime, and the dwindling availability of public resources - on this influx of immigrants. Immigrants are accused of abusing government assistance programs, contributing little or no tax revenue to the public coffers, taking jobs from U.S. citizens and failing to adjust to new communities. These concerns are heightened because immigrants bring with them diverse cultures, lifestyles and languages, which some see as threats to their sense of values and community.

The troubling phenomenon we have recently witnessed is more and more policymakers buying into the parochial view that the State's economic ills are caused by immigrants. This view by some is fanning the flames of intolerance. Some legislators are using their positions to validate this sentiment by introducing legislation that restricts fundamental civil rights. The test by which we determine restrictions on the rights of undocumented immigrants should be the same as that used in any other policy decisionwhat is best for the public at large. Policy should reflect thoughtful decisions with positive long-range effects. Thus far, restrictive immigrant legislation has not held to this test.

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