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Bill Allowing Illegal Immigrants’ Businesses to Receive State Aid Passes California Assembly

Bill Allowing Illegal Immigrants’ Businesses to Receive State Aid Passes California Assembly

“I think it makes a lot of sense," Assemblyman Carlos Villapudua, chair of the jobs and economy committee, said of AB 2543. Above, Mr. Villapudua speaks during the bill’s hearing on April 16, 2024. (Travis Gillmore/The Epoch Times)

Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

5/24/2024

Updated: 5/28/2024

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The California Assembly voted 61–10 on May 21 to pass a measure that would allow businesses owned by illegal immigrants to receive business development assistance from the state.
Assembly Bill 2543, authored by Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula, would allow all owners to have their businesses certified by the state, which would then provide eligibility for such assistance and other services, regardless of immigration status.
Such is already offered through the state’s small business certification program, but it excludes those who are not U.S. citizens.
“Despite their importance to local communities and their economic contribution to the state, many small businesses are unable to access the benefits of the small business certification program,” Dr. Arambula said in legislative analyses. “This prevents them from accessing the benefits of small business certification, restricting their ability to expand and continue to help the state’s economy grow.”
Not allowing illegal immigrants to access these benefits is detrimental to the state’s business environment and deprives some business owners from accessing resources that could benefit the community, he argues.
“These businesses offer the same services, products, and benefits as other certified businesses,” Dr. Arambula said. “However, their owners may not have proof of lawful status in this country, even when the federal government has issued them an Employer Identification Number.”
Supporters contend that all business owners should be covered by the Small Business Procurement and Contract Act—passed by the Legislature in 1975 and amended in 2016—to help small businesses access goods and information technology, and to facilitate services to the state and in construction of state facilities.
The program is overseen by the state’s Department of General Services, which is responsible for certifying small businesses and determining their eligibility under the act to assist with bidding preferences and prompt payment of state contracts, among other services.
Businesses owned by illegal immigrants are growing—with approximately 10 percent of undocumented workers becoming entrepreneurs in the state, thus generating more than $3.5 billion of economic activity in 2016, according to the Assembly’s Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy Committee’s analysis.
Committee consultants have argued that the state would benefit from providing such individuals with assistance.
“California stands to gain, with additional small business certifications [to help owners acquire contracts] and allow overall economic expansion for the state,” consultants wrote in their analysis published in April.
One lawmaker said the bill would also improve opportunities for entrepreneurs.
“I think it makes a lot of sense, and [I] look forward to supporting [it] today,” Assemblyman Carlos Villapudua, chair of the jobs and economy committee, said during the bill’s hearing on April 16.
Witnesses testifying in support of the bill at the hearing said the measure would also help to level the playing field for immigrants, suggesting that entrepreneurship is key to successful personal development for many individuals.
“The bill will not only foster economic growth but also will promote inclusivity and equity within our state,” Luis Perez, representing the nonprofit Immigrants Rising, said.
Opponents have argued that services should be reserved for citizens, especially during difficult budget times—with the state working to solve a deficit of about $73 billion and projections of shortfalls in the coming fiscal years.
“It’s a large budget crisis, and my votes have been pretty consistent across the board with the limited funds we have,” Assemblyman Joe Patterson told The Epoch Times. “We’re saying to all those people, ‘Come here, get a job, get assistance, go to school for free, get housing for free, and it’s crazy.’”
Republicans were split on the matter, with Assemblyman Juan Alanis voting in favor and several abstaining from the vote, while 10 voted against the measure on the Assembly floor.
The bill will now head to the Senate to be heard by respective committees in the coming weeks.
According to the legislative analyses of the bill, the cost for expanding the program to illegal immigrants is currently unknown.
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Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore

Author

Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

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