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On April 3, 2017, the California State Senate passed a bill (SB54) that started the process of making California a statewide sanctuary for the millions of undocumented immigrants residing in the state.

The bill also enables state and local law enforcement to notify Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) federal agents before convicted violent or serious felons are released from custody. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon said about the bill, “We will cooperate with our friends at the federal level with serious and violent felons. But we won’t cooperate or lift a finger or spend a single cent when we’re talking about separating children from their mothers, mothers from their children.”  

The stance that De Leon is taking on this bill is productive and beneficial for the millions of undocumented immigrants who are residing in California and only want to have an opportunity at a better life for themselves and their children. To prevent or hinder the progress of immigrants in America is truly one of the most “un-American” actions that an American citizen can commit. This is because of America’s history and how interconnected America’s development is associated with immigrants. Immigrants have always been essential aspects of improving the infrastructure, efficiency and quality of life in America.

As a result of the extreme amount of fear-mongering that President Donald Trump utilized in the 2016 presidential election, immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, have been vilified and wrongly stereotyped as bad people who leech off of the government through the use of social programs such as welfare. Not only is this a gross misconception about immigrants, but it is absolutely overlooking the fact that undocumented immigrants are extremely hardworking individuals who pay taxes and contribute to America on a daily basis. According to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants pay almost 12 billion dollars in state and local taxes a year, while not being able to access several benefits from the government, such as healthcare, retirement and unemployment benefits. Due to the immense contributions that undocumented immigrants make to the American economy (and the California economy in particular), it is extremely important for the SB54 bill to pass to ensure the safety of undocumented immigrants in California.

Moreover, if SB54 is successful in California, it could create a ripple effect throughout the rest of the nation which would improve the quality of life for all undocumented immigrants in the United States. With the security that they will not be deported or taken away from their families by ICE, undocumented immigrants can focus more of their energy on improving their communities and raising their children to be productive members of society. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants impact the state economies of all 50 states in varying degrees, from Montana’s 2.2 million to California’s 3.2 billion. These millions and billions of dollars from each of the respective states clearly demonstrate one salient fact: Undocumented immigrants are not destroying America, but rather they are contributing to America’s success.

For example, undocumented immigrants contribute to the retirements of many American seniors, while not having a possibility of utilizing those retirement funds. Statistically speaking, Stephen Goss, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, estimates that “undocumented immigrants paid $13 billion into the retirement trust fund in 2010, and only got $1 billion in benefits.” The Social Security retirement fund is a blatant example of how undocumented immigrants are being manipulated by the American government while simultaneously being vilified for allegedly “destroying” America.

Overall, SB54 is an extremely strong indicator that California will not allow the Trump administration to bully it into removing undocumented immigrants from the state of California. Undocumented immigrants are not “illegals” but they are human beings with aspirations and goals who should be treated with human decency and respect. Also, undocumented immigrants strongly contribute to the economic strength of America on a daily basis by being laborious and not expecting anything in return. If America is truly about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, then they would acknowledge that undocumented immigrants really are worthy of those three promises.