California authorizes signature drive for ballot initiative based on Arizona’s immigration law

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Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

File photo: A supporter of SB 1070 engages in a conversation with Gloria Godoy, a Guatemalan American who came from Los Angeles to protest against Arizona's new immigration law.

California voters may face an Arizona-style immigration measure on the 2012 ballot. Tuesday the secretary of state authorized a signature drive for a initiative that would require law enforcement officers to investigate the legal status of people they suspect may be undocumented.

The “Support Federal Immigration Law Act” would empower law enforcement to check the legal status of anyone they have reason to suspect is illegally in the country.

Bay Area Tea Party activist Michael Erickson said he drafted California’s version of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 to avert some of the constitutional pitfalls that have held up that law in court:

• California’s initiative requires state law enforcement to contact federal authorities when they conduct immigration status checks. They’d also have to get the job done “in a timely manner”.

• The measure makes it a state crime for an employer to “intentionally or negligently” hire an undocumented worker. Workers who lie about their immigration status when they apply for jobs could also face charges.

The initiative lets legal residents sue agencies or officials who violate the immigration law.

Initiative supporters have until April 21, 2011 to gather 433,971 signatures to qualify the measure for the 2012 ballot.

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