Undocumented workers welcome new CA work license law

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Oct. 1, 2014

LOS ANGELES – Despite Congress stalling over immigration reform, California continues to make it easier for the undocumented to live and work in the state.

California was among the first to aid undocumented students with college tuitions.

Early next year, the state will give drivers licenses to the undocumented, and soon professional and vocational licenses will also be issued regardless of immigration status.

“We have these different needs, so it just makes sense,” said Aqui Versoza Soriano, of the Pilipino Workers Center. “We’re able to have all of the people in our communities who are able to pass and take studies and be able to pass and actually get certified. So they can fill this need in our economy.”

Governor Jerry Brown just signed Senate Bill 1159, which prohibits licensing boards under the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs from denying applicant’s licenses based on immigration status.

The bill would strike down requirements for social security numbers when applying for a vocational license, paving the way for undocumented workers from fields such as the medical, cosmetic, technology, and financial worlds to apply for licenses in their practice.

While it’s recommended that caregivers are licensed CNA’s, many Filipinos have found work without it.

One Pinay believes the chance for her to get licensed will be good for her career as well as for her patients.

“It’s good because the employers always look at the welfare of their member of the family to see that they’re safe,” she said. “So they are more confident that the member of the family is well taken care of by the caregiver.”

She adds that while a license can attract better jobs, it can also help her return to her true profession, teaching – a job she held in the Philippines for 28 years – only to get caught in disputes between her employer and staffing agency after six months of teaching in the U.S., which eventually led to her falling out of status.

The new license could possibly allow her to go back to working in the education field.

“Well if that will be the case, then why not,” she said. “I want to go back to teaching and even just substitute teach, I would be fine. It’s been more than five years I didn’t teach.”

On a recent stop in Los Angeles to tout a health care bill for undocumented Californians, the author of Senate Bill 1159, Richardo Lara, talked about the importance of giving work vocational licenses to the undocumented.

“California has been the leader in many issues and again California leads statewide and nationally on immigration issues,” said State Senator Ricardo Lara. “We’ve been able to provide resources for our DREAM act students. We are working on ensuring they have professional licenses so that when they graduate, they can be an architect, they can be a nurse, they can be a beautician, they can continue to contribute to our economy. We know that our immigrants contribute up to $1.7 billion dollars in our state general fund annually.

Critics of the legislation have argued that it would encourage more illegal immigration. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the nationwide group against illegal immigration, has also criticized the law, saying that California is continuing to violate federal laws.

However, Republican Filipino leader Cecile Ramos has told Balitang America that she welcomes the move, saying it would help improve the state’s economy.

Under the legislation, governing bodies for about 40 professions are expected to allow the undocumented to have their work permits by 2016, giving time for workers to explore possible career options.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • Mario
    2 October 2014 at 2:14 am - Reply

    Issuance of vocational license to illegal aliens is good and bad to the economy in California.A plumber charges $35/hr, a licensed illegals are willing to charge $10/hr. That legal citizen will lose his job or relocate to another State, and start hating the Democrat, chances are he will turn Republican. Millions of illegal will move to CA,1 out of 3 children in public school are illegal, you know already what will be the future of CA,… a third world country or province of Mexico….. Come November fire all Democrats who are Islamist and Socialist, they destroyed America….

    • Delia
      2 October 2014 at 7:55 am - Reply

      Obama and liberals achieving their goals of controlling this Nation and changing it into a third world slum is nearly in place.
      They support the invasion of a sovereign nation by millions of illegal criminals
      • They have no respect for current immigration law
      • They put illegal aliens before American workers
      • They believe it’s OK to cut in line ahead of millions of LEGAL citizenship applicants
      • They don’t care about flooding the streets and prisons with terrorist and gang members
      • They don’t care about the quality of your kids education going down the tubes
      • They like to spend other peoples money on illegals but not your own

      • They support and encourage massive voter fraud