The state of California has seen a shift in immigrant tolerance in recent years, highlighting a dramatic change in attitudes from almost 20 years ago. Based upon past patterns of voting, California was once quite intolerant of immigration. This is evidenced by a 1994 vote on Proposition 187, which barred undocumented immigrants from public schools and hospitals.
That measure was defeated by legal issues, but if the same issue came up for voting today it is likely that the measure would be a virtual tie, with 44 percent of the population voting against it and 46 percent voting for it. In addition to more supportive attitudes, Californians appear to overwhelmingly support the new program offering work permits and deportation reprieves to undocumented immigrants. The same respondents also support offering immigrants the opportunity to obtain driver’s licenses.
However, although this is mostly positive news for immigrants, California still appears to heavily support stepped-up border enforcement and the apprehension of illegal immigrants. It is believed that the softening attitudes may be because of the population’s increased contact with immigrants. Twenty percent of the voting power in the state is now made up of Latino voters. However, it appears that attitudes among white voters are also changing.
Although the state appears to be moving towards a more relaxed attitude about immigration, it seems as if voters are struggling to find a middle ground in the issue. Many Californians support proposals similar to Arizona’s controversial SB 1070, which would require police officers to request someone’s papers if they suspect they may be in the country illegally. However, the majority of Latinos opposed this measure, feeling it may lead to racial profiling.
With California seeming to promote more pro-immigration policies, it could be a good sign for immigrants attempting to come one step closer to applying for and receiving American citizenship. As trends shift, it may be advisable for families attempting to immigrate to speak to a professional attorney for more information about the current state of immigration law.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “California voters more tolerant of illegal immigrants, poll finds,” Cindy Chang, Oct. 28, 2012