James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/14/2010 02:29:27 PM PST

When Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Claremont, was running for office, there was no shortage of fiery rhetoric about illegal immigration and the need for drastic action in Sacramento.

His first week on the job featured no shortage of similarly fiery legislation. On Dec. 6, the day he took the oath of office, Donnelly introduced an immigration enforcement law modeled on Arizona’s controversial S.B. 1070. He followed that on Friday with a bill that would reverse existing state law and force illegal immigrant students to pay out-of-state tuition rates at California’s public universities and community colleges.

Both bills face long odds in a state that has been more prone to expand rather than limit immigrants’ rights.

“I was not under the impression that I would start work in Sacramento and all of a sudden everything would sail through,” Donnelly said. “I’m not afraid of hard work. I don’t intend to give up.”

Donnelly’s latest bill, Assembly Bill 63, would prevent illegal immigrant students from getting in-state tuition at University of California, California State University and local community college campuses. At the same time, it would grant in-state tuition to active-duty military personnel and their children.

“In my mind, the scenario I picture is that someone has moved into our state because they’re being transferred,” Donnelly said. “If they’re active-duty military, then we should not be penalizing them for living in the state of California.”

Asked why the two items should be linked – given that one half of the bill is a significantly harder sell than the other – Donnelly said they both “represent our values.”

“There’s a great deal of public anger at our state government for subsidizing the illegal behavior of people who have come here unlawfully,” he said. “At the same time, there’s tremendous support for our troops. I think it offers you a clear choice.”

Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, who sits next to Donnelly in the Assembly chamber, said Donnelly is sincere but represents an outspoken minority, not the majority of Californians.

“California is much more positive about integrating immigrants into the fabric of our state,” he said.

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