California Governor Jerry Brown, seen here at a news conference to announce the Public Employee Pension Reform Act of 2012, signed a bill into action allowing some undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses. (Photo : Reuters)
Governor Jerry Brown (D- Calif.) signed a law encouraging schools to teach the history of a guest worker program during the post-World War II years on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
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The bill, which does not force teachers to include the program in their lessons, focuses on the "Bracero" program of 1942-1964. According to Reuters, the Braceros program brought in nearly 5 million people from Mexico to work as farm laborers.
Supporters of the bill told Reuters that adding the Braceros program history would teach students about the mistreatment of migrant workers, including those who were never paid their wages.
Bill sponsor, Senator Kevin De León, said, "School children will now be able to appreciate the great contributions made to this state during a critical time in our history by the Braceros."
Another bill sponsor, Democratic state Assembly member Tom Ammiano told supporters, "Remember history. Remember what happened to the Japanese-Americans. Remember the Chinese Exclusion Act. Remember when they wanted to quarantine gay people because of HIV. We stood up and we fought that. California needs to take the lead on this issue."
The state enacted a similar law last year called the Fair Education Law, which required schools to include social, political and economic contributions made by people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community into their curriculum. Unlike the Fair Education Law, the Braceros program curriculum inclusion is not required but encouraged by the state.
The bill signed on Tuesday comes as the national debate on immigration heats up, Reuters said. California activist are also urging Brown to sign an "anti-Arizona" law that would block local police from conducting status checks on some illegal immigrants.
Reuters reported that government figures show California has the biggest population of illegal immigrants in the United States.