Work permits for undocumented immigrants

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An assembly bill offering work permits to undocumented immigrants is now working its way towards the state senate.

Washington DC's inaction on comprehensive immigration reform has led to a push for a guest worker pilot program at the state capitol. AB20 from assembly member Luis Alejo would provide work permits to undocumented immigrants already working on farms.

Alejo said, "If California wants change in immigration policy, we as state officials must stand up and lead."

Most of the workers toiling in Valley fields and orchards are undocumented. If approved, the program would allow them to work without fear of deportation. But Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League says a state immigration law would cause conflicts with federal law.

The motivation is great," said Cunha. "A state cannot issue any work authorization at all. It is forbidden by the congress or give out social security cards. The state can't do that to undocumented people but I think what he's trying to do is do an awareness.

The program would form a group which would seek authority from homeland security and the department of justice.

Cunha added, "The department of homeland security is not going to give the state of California authorization to give out green cards."

The bill passed the senate Ag committee and now moves to the senate appropriations committee.

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