California gives immigrants here illegally unprecedented rights, benefits, protections

It started with in-state tuition. Then came driver’s licenses, new rules designed to limit deportations and state-funded healthcare for children. And on Monday, in a gesture heavy with symbolism, came a new law to erase the word “alien” from California’s labor code.

Together, these piecemeal measures have taken on a significance greater than their individual parts — a fundamental shift in the relationship between California and its residents who live in the country illegally. The various benefits, rights and protections add up to something experts liken to a kind of California citizenship.

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