Arizona's tough immigration law, SB1070, has been both praised and criticized. Now, an assemblyman wants to bring a similar law to California.
The state is facing a $26 billion budget gap. Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-59th) believes illegal immigration is fueling the deficit.
"The most conservative numbers in California is that it costs us up to $11 billion dollars to provide social services to illegal immigrants," Donnelly said in a phone interview.
Part of the solution, he says, is bill AB 26.
"It's essentially the Arizona law brought to California," Donnelly said. "If you come in contact with law enforcement, we are going to make sure that you have a lawful status here."
Under the bill, companies would have to use the "e verify" program to make sure their employees are in the country legally. It would also eliminate so-called "sanctuary cities." Like the Arizona law, local police officers would have the right to detain illegal immigrants while investigating a crime.
But some argue the bill doesn't stand a chance.
"It will die a quick and appropriate death in its first committee, and we will not hear from it again," said Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-45th).
Critics argue immigrants help California's economy. But when times are tough, they're the first to get blamed.
"During difficult economic times, immigrants are easy targets," Cedillo said. "They are scapegoats."
Opponents say the bill is just a distraction. But Donnelly says the response has been "phenomenal."
Donnelly, a former California minuteman, will present the bill April 5.