SACRAMENTO, Calif.-Nearly 1 million undocumented immigrants could live and work openly in California with little or no fear of deportation under an initiative unveiled Friday by a state legislator and others.
Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, a Democrat, is helping spearhead the measure, called the California Opportunity and Prosperity Act.
The proposal was filed Friday with the state Attorney General's Office, marking a first step toward a drive to collect the 504,760 voter signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.
Fuentes called the measure a "moderate, common-sense approach" necessitated by the federal government's inability to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
"I hope this shows Washington, D.C., that if they fail to act, California will take the lead on this critical issue," Fuentes said in a written statement.
Supporters say the initiative could generate up to $325 million in new tax revenue from undocumented workers that could assist education, public safety and other state programs.
Regardless whether Californians would support such a measure, implementation would depend upon the federal government agreeing not to prosecute participants.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican, blasted the proposal as an attempt to sidestep immigration law. He predicted that it wouldn't have a "snowball's chance in hell" of winning voter approval.
"There's a proper process for coming to this country," Donnelly said. "Why don't you respect that?"
The proposed initiative would apply to illegal immigrants who have lived in California for four years, have no felony convictions, are not suspected terrorists, pay a fee to administer the program, and can speak English or are learning it.