"There is no policy debate more important to the future of California and America than passing comprehensive immigration reform," the lawmakers said in a letter to House Republicans from California. "By providing legal clarity to the status of millions of people in California, we can spur an economic renaissance, solidify families, and create an entirely new population of full taxpayers, many of whom who have strong entrepreneurial and work ethics."
The push by legislative Republicans follows similar lobbying efforts by GOP donors and business interests this year. Still, the lawmakers who signed the letter to Republican representatives today represent fewer than half of Republican lawmakers in Sacramento.
The U.S. Senate in June approved legislation that would pay for increased border security and create a guest-worker program and path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The bill is stalled in the House.
At a news conference at the Capitol this morning, Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Oakdale, said, "For Congress to put off once again enacting a policy that allows a reasonable path to citizenship for a group of people that contribute so much to the California economy is just wrong."
The Republican Party in California is a marginalized body, wounded by its inability to adapt to the state's growing number of Latino voters, among other things. Many Republicans believe passage of an immigration bill in Washington, D.C., could improve the party's image with Latino voters.
Asked about the political implications of the lawmakers' push for immigration changes, Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres said, "I don't think it politically helps us at all. You cannot erase 20 years of ignoring an issue with, you know, a year or a few months of getting on the right side."
Cannella said the party has "many years" of work ahead.
PHOTO: Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, speaks to reporters at a news conference at the Capitol on Sept. 12, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders