No need to wonder why California is circling the drain.

(Reuters) — While America’s debate over immigration has been dominated recently by crackdowns in states like Arizona and Alabama, California legislators are trying to turn that tide with a bill to protect illegal immigrants that they dub the “anti-Arizona.”

Last week, the top U.S. court upheld the most controversial aspect of Arizona’s immigration statute: a requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they stop, even for minor offenses such as jay-walking.

Enter California, a border state that is home to the largest number of illegal immigrants, most of whom are Hispanic, and is considerably more liberal than its neighbor Arizona.

A bill currently working its way through the California legislature would block local law enforcement from referring a detainee to immigration officials for deportation unless that person has been convicted of a violent or serious felony.

“California cannot afford to become another Arizona,” said California Assembly member Tom Ammiano, the bill’s sponsor. One of the bill’s sponsors, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, calls the effort the “anti-Arizona.”

Critics have argued that Arizona’s law could lead to illegal racial or ethnic profiling of Hispanics in Arizona. Hispanics are the largest U.S. minority group, representing 16 percent of the population.

Supporters of the Arizona law say it is needed because the federal government has failed to secure the border with Mexico.

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