California: Model for National Immigration Reform?

California is one of those precious political bell weather states.

You’ve heard of the election night adage: as goes Ohio goes the nation?

Substitute California and you get a dynamic with a potential to alter politics, the economy, and our culture for the remaining days of the year.

This is the case for immigration. The Golden State (and in the interest of full disclosure I will reveal my bias as a born and bred Californiana) has a big stake in this national debate. It is the home to an estimated 2.5 million illegal or undocumented immigrants, the most in any state. Often times overlooked is the diversity within this community: Asian-Americans see the immigration proposals on the table differently than say, Latinos.

The Central Valley is considered one of the nation’s bread baskets with high stakes for farmers, migrant workers, and everyone on that food chain.

Then there’s Silicon Valley–Innovation Central–where technology and science-based industries of the now and the future are changing not just the country, but the world.

How action on this issue plays out in Washington will have profound effects on California. How this state deals with it–by working with the hand that is dealt and enterprising solutions–become templates our country follows.

This was the first segment on KQED‘s public affairs show This Week in Northern California which I guest hosted and served as moderator of our immigration roundtable with:

  • Aarti Kohli, Director of Immigration Policy at U.C. Berkeley Law School’s Warren Institute
  • Emil Guillermo, a writer for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and
  • Marcela Davison Avilés, President and CEO of the San Jose Mexican Heritage Festival.

Click below to watch our February 1, 2013 immigration discussion.

Also on the show is a story by the PBS NewsHour‘s Spencer Michel. He reports on the little-known “Laura’s Law” which allows the mentally ill at risk of becoming violent to be forced to seek outpatient treatment. This law has been on the books for ten years and is poignantly relevant after the recent mass shootings, including the one in Newtown, Connecticut.

Click below to watch this story broadcast on February 1, 2013.

Last but not least, “We arreee the champions my frieeennnds” sung by the Baltimore Ravens, Superbowl 47 champs and not the San Francisco 49’ers! I spoke with Mercury News sports columnist Mark Purdy on:

  • the Harbaugh brothers’ ultimate coach rivalry
  • quarterback strategy, and
  • the economic boon if the new Niner stadium hosts the NFL championship game in 2016 or 2017.

Ravens won (I’m not listening I’m not listening I’m not listening)!

J/K…¡Felicidades to them!

Click below to listen and see the “Purdy surprise” at the end:

Click here to watch the episode in its entirety.

Click here to read other posts in the original TWLC series “Anatomy of an Immigration Debate” which analyze the charged political and social context of the immigration debate and the extraordinary demographic changes confirmed by the 2010 U.S. Census that are re-defining and challenging our notion of the body politic as articulated in the motto imprinted on American currency “E pluribus unum”–”Out of Many, One.”

If an overhaul to the immigration system happens, will there be “something for everyone”?

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