Led by Congressman Felipe Fuentes (D-Los Angeles), The California Opportunity and Prosperity Act (COPA) is a law that focuses on making California a stronger, wealthier nation with less illegal immigration issues.
COPA would do two things for illegal immigrants:
- 1. They would be allowed to work in California legally (even though they may not have their papers)
- They would not be given harsh punishment if they are caught by federal officers (some immigrants will be placed on the bottom of the “deportation list”, other immigrants could be forgiven and might avoid deportation altogether)
COPA is called a prosperity act because, if immigrants are allowed to legally work in the California, it is possible that the state will gain $325 millions of dollars per year.
Registering some immigrants that are currently working will mean that there are more tax dollars entering California’s budget. The money we would gain from these immigrants would help fund safety and educational programs in California.
Currently, immigrants are usually detained right away and forced to sign papers that guarantee their deportation. Under COPA, immigrants will be given time to get their papers together if they are ever caught by federal officials.
COPA would only apply to certain qualifying immigrants in California. In order to qualify, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be paying state taxes and have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
- You must have NO felonies (NO convictions for felonies either)
- If you are a suspected terrorist, you do not qualify
- You must know English, or at least be learning it
- You must pay a fee and provide a photo of yourself
- You must have NO public charges against you
- You must have lived here since before Janurary 1, 2008
There is much heated debate about COPA. It was defeated 15 times in Washington D.C. because of political fights between Republicans and Democrats. That’s why it is now a Californian bill.
Some say that this Act should be passed because states have a right to determine their immigration policy. Others disagree and want to leave it up to the federal government.
There are also possible drawbacks of this bill. What if the 2013 California administration is more conservative than the one we have right now? If used the wrong way, this bill could be used as a tool to root out illegal immigrants and register their names in the system. It would become much easier to find and convict immigrants if they willingly sign themselves up as undocumented immigrants.
Of course, if the bill is used for purposes it was meant for, it could mean a sigh of relief for almost 1 million undocumented immigrants in California.
We will keep you updated about the progress of this bill. As on now, the bill needs more than 500,000 signatures to appear on the ballot.
To learn more about COPA, please visit the official website, here.