Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto Applauds California's Immigration Policies Benefiting Immigrants in US
Although Congress has yet to send President Barack Obama legislation addressing immigration, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto commended California for the state's efforts on the issue.
According to Peña Nieto, California immigration legislation is predominantly immigrant-friendly. Peña Nieto noted the state's law allowing undocumented immigrants the right to obtain a driver's license. The immigrant driver's license law, however, is not in effect yet due to debate on the card's appearance.
"The progress you have promoted not only benefits Californians because you have sent a very clear message to the U.S. and the entire world," the Mexican president said during a joint session of the California Legislature.
"I want to thank you for everything you have done favoring migrants."
California's "immigrant-friendly" laws include providing state-funded financial aid and scholarships at public universities for undocumented immigrants. Democratic California lawmakers have also proposed efforts to fund $3 million for unaccompanied, undocumented immigrant minors to receive legal counsel for their immigration court hearings.
"Helping these young people navigate our legal system is the decent thing to do, and it's consistent with the progressive spirit of California," California Gov. Jerry Brown said about the legislation, which does not require Republican support to pass the bill.
One lawmaker protested Peña Nieto's speech in the state's legislature. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, did not attend the event due to the jailing of U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi in Mexico over alleged weapons charges. Peña Nieto did not comment on the Marine's detainment.
Donnelly criticized Brown for not discussing the jailed Marine and wrote to the governor, "You had a great opportunity to demonstrate leadership by taking a stand for a California citizen that has put himself in harm's way for our freedom. Instead of visiting our imprisoned Marine, you were feted by his captors instead of fighting for his release."
The Mexican president was on a two-day trip in California, following Brown's trip to the country last month. Brown and Peña Nieto have worked on improving policies and treaties including business, climate change and immigration.
"California has really come a long way," said Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, to the Los Angeles Times. "I think California is sending a message that we recognize the valuable contributions and the labor and sacrifices of immigrants and that we want to integrate them."
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