By James Rufus Koren Staff Writer
Created: 04/15/2011 09:49:10 PM PDT

Two anti-illegal-immigration bills by firebrand Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, were rejected by an Assembly committee last week, but the freshman lawmaker and former minuteman says he’s not deterred.

In fact, he said he sees last week’s hearing as a step in the right direction.

“I saw it as exactly what I was trying to achieve,” he said. “I was trying to get someone who…would look at my bill and say this is a serious problem that we’re going to have to address.”

He got some of that from Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-Lodi, who said during the April 5 Judiciary Committee hearing that she supported parts of Donnelly’s Assembly Bill 26.

The sweeping bill would:

Allow residents of so-called “sanctuary cities” – cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration law – to sue local governments over sanctuary policies.

Make it a misdemeanor for an illegal immigrant to be in California.

Require California employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check the status of all employees.

Add penalties for people who smuggle illegal immigrants into the country for profit, with a life sentence for those who smuggle children for the purposes of sexual slavery.

“You’d be surprised at how many things I agree with in this bill,” Huber said. “I think there’s things we can agree on that we can do as a state.”

Huber didn’t mention specific items she liked, and her office did not return calls for comment, but Donnelly said he thinks at least the items about sexual slavery and human trafficking could be popular with Democrats.

“There are a number of people spearheading different aspects of sexual traffic and human slavery – it’s a huge cause in the liberal community,” Donnelly said.

Earlier this year, the Assembly unanimously approved a Donnelly bill to declare January 2011 National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and Declare Feb.1 as California’s Free From Slavery Day. The California PTA supported the bill.

“The PTA called us up,” Donnelly said. “It created a bridge.”

But it’s not clear how Donnelly plans to further develop that connection.

“Our goal is to try to really address and attack and isolate the various aspects of this problem and go after the most pragmatic,” Donnelly said. “I don’t have every single detail nailed down in my mind.”

Huber recommended Donnelly “tackle smaller pieces” of his legislation, saying, “I caution against us trying to make California the state that can solve all of the immigration problems.”

But that’s what Donnelly wants. He has a clear idea of how to solve the illegal immigration problem – it involves U.S. military involvement in the drug war, the deportation of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and the creation of a guest-worker program – and he says he’s not assuming he’ll have more than one term to get things done.

“If we don’t do all these things, it’s not going to work,” Donnelly said. “I realize there’s a lot of moving parts. But I stand up there and say I believe we can do a lot better than we’ve done.”

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