Immigration: California’s Push Me Pull You

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Once again, California is showing the nation that it is the land of inconsistency.

One glaring example: the state’s approach to illegal immigrants.

Most states enact policies either favorably or unfavorably disposed to illegal immigrants, depending upon the values of the culture.

But California's schizophrenic political culture has the state going in both directions simultaneously -- like the imaginary Doctor Dolittle animal -- on illegal immigration-related issues.

No wonder we're confused.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to overturn a state policy that allows illegal immigrant children to pay in-state tuition when attending public universities and colleges.

The policy had been challenged by citizens who claimed that illegal immigrants should be treated as out-of-state students who are subject to higher tuition charges. The Court refused to get involved, thereby allowing the policy to remain in place.

At the same time California, like many other states, denies illegal immigrants the ability to possess driver's licenses, making it harder for them to hold jobs and conduct other transportation-related activities.

This policy follows the passage of Proposition 187 in 1994, a contentious proposal that would have denied virtually all government benefits to illegal immigrants, had not the federal courts declared the bulk of the proposition unconstitutional.

Whether this contradictory activity will continue much longer remains in doubt.

In fact, the most recent court decision may be more an indication of the state's future direction on illegal immigration than previous legislation denying driver's licenses.

Latinos comprised 22 percent of the electorate in 2010, up sharply from 18 percent in 2008.

In addition, new legislative district boundaries in 2012 are likely to generate more minority legislators in the near term, a reflection that non-Hispanic whites are now less than a majority of the state's population.

None of this is lost on the state's elected officials who, if nothing else, can count.

Of course most Latinos are not illegal immigrants (and may or may not be positively disposed toward them), so the fact that the Latino population is increasing does not necessarily mean a more favorable climate for illegal immigrants.

Still, with new districts and a changing electorate, the days of denying licenses to illegal immigrants may be nearing an end. 

A "pushmi-pullyu" is a fictional character from the "Doctor Dolittle" series. This above photo illustration is one imagining of the animal.

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