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California could follow Arizona’s immigration footsteps

LOS ANGELES, November 24, 2010 (AFP) – California could follow in Arizona’s footsteps if it passes a referendum proposal on a law banning immigrants from the workplace and mandating police checks for immigration status that a state official filed Tuesday.

California Secretary of State Debra Brown, a Democrat, announced the measure Tuesday in a statement, saying it was proposed by Michael Erickson, an activist with the ultra-conservative Tea Party in San Francisco.

Called “Support Federal Immigration Law Act,” the measure “makes it a crime for undocumented persons to seek work while concealing their immigration status and also makes it a crime for any employer to hire an undocumented person intentionally or negligently.”

It also requires “all highway patrol, police, sheriffs and other sworn officers to investigate immigration status when they are reasonably suspicious that a person stopped is in the country illegally.”

An almost identical law in Arizona triggered demonstrations and heated debate across the country and in Latin America before it became law in July. The US government has filed a suit against the law President Barack Obama has called abusive and divisive.

The proposed California law also “authorizes legal residents to sue any official or agency that adopts or implements policies that limit immigration enforcement, and specifies a 5,000-dollar-per-day fine and attorneys’ fees for violations.”

Erickson, a former Republican Party chief in Sonoma county, has until April 21 to gather 433,971 signatures from registered voters in order to qualify his proposal for the ballot in the next state elections.

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