California Latinos hope Gov. Brown will sign farm, immigration bills

Latino leaders who went to bat for Jerry Brown in last year's campaign are now counting on the governor to help them pass bills supporting farmworkers and illegal immigrants.

Latino census growth, the pending redrawing of political districts and the election of a Democrat for the state's top office create a confluence of opportunity not seen in years, activists say.

"We are turning back the ugliness of a previous period, piece by piece," Nativo Lopez of the Mexican American Political Association said of the 1990s, when voters approved a ban on public benefits to illegal immigrants that later was deemed unconstitutional.

The latest action on a Latino bill came Thursday, when the Assembly passed a measure inspired by Pedro Ramirez, student body president at Fresno State University, that would allow undocumented immigrants to receive a stipend, grant or scholarship for serving in student government at a state university or community college.

Among the other bills in the Legislature:

AB 131 would allow illegal immigrants who pay in-state tuition to apply for Cal Grants and other public aid for college.

AB 1389 would bar police from impounding cars at sobriety checkpoints solely because a driver is unlicensed, an action that hits undocumented immigrants hard because they cannot obtain driver's licenses.

AB 1081 would allow counties to withdraw from a federal program that runs fingerprints of arrestees through a database to identify illegal immigrants.

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