California Immigration Reform Question (2014)

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The California Immigration Reform Question will not be on the November 4, 2014 ballot in California as an advisory question. The measure would have asked voters whether the United States Congress should reform immigration laws and "immediately pass" comprehensive immigration reform, including:[1]
  • A path to citizenship for those who learn English, pass a background check and pay back taxes.
  • Ordering the President to halt deportations of noncriminal mothers and fathers whose children were born in the United States, until a new immigration law is passed.

The California Secretary of State would have been required to communicate the results of the measure to the US Congress.[1]

The advisory question was known in the California Legislature as Senate Bill 1402. Sen. Kevin de León (D-22) introduced the bill into the legislature.[1]

Text of measure

The proposed ballot question read as follows:[1]

Shall the Congress of the United States reform our immigration laws and immediately pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship to those immigrants who learn English, pass a background check, and pay back taxes, and shall the President of the United States halt the deportations of noncriminal mothers and fathers whose children were born in the United States, which separate families, until that new immigration law is passed?[2]


American Federation of Labor v. Eu

In 1984, the California Supreme Court ruled against placing initiated, but not legislatively referred, advisory questions on the ballot. The court wrote, "[A]n initiative which seeks to do something other than enact a statute - which seeks to render an administrative decision, adjudicate a dispute, or declare by resolution the views of the resolving body - is not within the initiative power reserved by the people." The ruling was prompted by a proposed citizen initiated advisory referendum designed to compel the state legislature to ask the federal government to adopt a balanced budget amendment.[3]

Some commentators think the ruling applies to legislatively referred advisory referendums as well. Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee said the ruling applies "logically - and probably legally..."[4]



Sen. Kevin de León (D-22) argued the following in the bill’s text:[1]

The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) The United States of America was founded on principles of freedom and opportunity, and on the tenet that all men and women are created equal.
(b) The nation’s history has been indelibly shaped by waves of immigration.
(c) The current immigration system in the United States is antiquated, riddled with inefficiencies, and incapable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century and our changing economy.
(d) Immigrants are a major engine for the state’s economic growth. Approximately 1 in 10 workers in California is an undocumented immigrant, totaling 1.85 million workers. Immigrants are vital for California’s industries, including technology, agriculture, hospitality, and services.
(e) The undocumented immigrant population in the United States is currently 11.7 million and is expected to continue growing in the absence of immigration and regulatory reform.
(f) Almost one-quarter (23 percent) of the nation’s undocumented immigrants reside in California.
(g) Thousands of families have been separated because of the enforcement of immigration laws that do not recognize the complexities of mixed-status families. Each year, more than 350,000 immigrants face deportation proceedings.
(h) Nearly one-half of undocumented immigrants in the United States are parents of minor children, and 77 percent of these children are United States citizens.
(i) Since 1998, about 600,000 children who are United States citizens have had a parent detained or deported. Currently, there are at least 5,100 children in the child welfare system because their parents are under immigration custody or have been deported. This number is expected to rise to 15,000 in the next five years.[2]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing ballot measures in California

The following was the history of Senate Bill 1402:[5]

See also

Suggest a link

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 California Legislature, "Senate Bill 1402," accessed July 28, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named fiscalnote
  4. Sacramento Bee, "Dan Walters: Democrats place pointless advisory measure on ballot, but why?," July 17, 2014
  5. California Legislature, "Senate Bill 1402 History," accessed July 28, 2014