by Mabel Song, Canyon Crest Academy
The Trump administration’s repeated demand for the fortification of immigration policy has lead to much conflict in today’s political climate. The topic of immigration itself has been converted into somewhat of a sensitive one, where opinions range so drastically that most prefer to not discuss it at all. However, for the state of California especially, it is a crucial one, as the state harbors around 2 million undocumented immigrants. In order to create a beneficial, prosperous, and efficient government, the state of California must work to assimilate and incorporate immigrants into all aspects of life, including politics. SB-174 makes this possible through the inclusion of immigrants on boards and commissions regardless of status, which would strengthen the government and aid the state of California in reaching its full potential.
The policy that SB-174 would come to replace is extremely outdated, and therefore no longer applicable to a state that has grown increasingly tolerant over the past century. Much of California’s current immigration policy was set in place during the Chinese Exclusion Act during the late 1800s, in an attempt to limit the flow of Chinese immigrants into the country. Americans on the West Coast were especially prone to correlating the deteriorating economy with the increased presence of Chinese workers, not unlike the principal arguments made against undocumented immigrants today. Obviously, most would agree that the Chinese Exclusion Act was a mistake on behalf of the American government, and it goes without saying that an overwhelming majority of Californians now would oppose the practice of such a policy. As Senator Ricardo Lara, the proposer of the bill has said, “It is shocking to read the words of fear and exclusion that are still in California law but belong in history’s trash can. The California Inclusion Act is another step toward utilizing the talents of our diverse population and righting a historical wrong.” There is no reason that California should continue to use law written over a hundred years ago, especially after the ethnic makeup of the state has transformed into one of the most unique and diverse in the country.
A well-established and prosperous government is that which truly reflects and listens to the people. The state of California is home to 10 million immigrants, or a quarter of the foreign-born population in the U.S., something that cannot be simply ignored by legislators. Representation for people from all walks of life is essential, and cannot be attained without the passing of SB-174. The Californian government cannot expect to successfully govern without taking into account the opinions, ideas, and solutions that the immigrant population has to offer. Immigrants are able to provide unique perspectives based on their experiences that native Californians may not share. If SB-174 is not brought to fruition, the barring of undocumented immigrants from public office will cost the Californian legislature valuable insights, thoughts, and policies that otherwise may have had monumentally positive effects on the politics of the state.
The numerous contributions made by the immigrant population have deemed them more than deserving of a role in the government. Many Americans are under the impression that undocumented immigrants steal jobs from deserving Americans, and create a burden on the economy. The actual statistics, however, clearly point to this notion being completely incorrect. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants in California already pay over $3 billion in taxes, an estimated 8% of their income. As taxpayers, these immigrants should be able to have a say in the government that they largely help to fund each year. It is time for the ignorant and premature perception of immigrants as resource thieves to end, so that they can be integrated into the government.
To conclude, SB-174 is a policy that is crucial to the state of California. It is imperative that California continues to progress and grow with more inclusive policies, rather than regress to a xenophobic past. It is simply absurd that the government of California should continue to disregard the views, needs, and perspectives of an entire population, especially one that has contributed so much to the state. The government cannot continue to solely reflect and favor the upper classes, or those with privilege. In fact, the U.S. as a whole should do all it can to incorporate and welcome people from all walks of life, and it is time that California serves as an example to the rest of the nation with the passing of SB-174.
Chavarin, Josue. “Undocumented Immigrants’ Tax Contributions in California: County-by-County Analysis.” ITEP, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 27 Apr. 2017,
“Senator Lara Introduces Bill to Allow All Californians to Serve on Boards and Commissions — Regardless of Immigration Status.” Senator Ricardo Lara, 1 May 2018, sd33.senate.ca.gov/news/2018-05-01-senator-lara-introduces-bill-allow-all-californians-serve-boards-and-commissions.
Hayes, Joseph, and Laura Hill. “Undocumented Immigrants in California.” Public Policy Institute of California, Mar. 2017, www.ppic.org/publication/undocumented-immigrants-in-california/.
Luna, Taryn. “Undocumented Immigrants Could Serve on California Boards under New Bill.” Sacbee, The Sacramento Bee, 30 Apr. 2018, www.sacbee.com/latest-news/article210184089.html.