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Dem lawmaker in tears after Republican says its unfair for Asians, Latinos to pay reparations

A California Democratic lawmaker held back tears during a discussion on slavery reparations after his Republican colleague said it would be unfair to make Asians and Latinos pay.

A California Democrat held back tears earlier this month when a Republican lawmaker said it would be unfair to make Asians and Latinos pay slavery reparations to African-Americans.

The exchange happened on June 11 during a meeting of the California Assembly Committee on Judiciary. The lawmakers were discussing SB 1331, a bill that would establish the “Fund for Reparations and Reparative Justice” in the state treasury — the culmination of a monthslong initiative by California Democrats to develop a reparation proposal for descendants of American slaves. 

“I’m concerned about the proposal to help facilitate distribution of reparations,” Assemblywoman Kate Sanchez, a Republican from Santa Margarita, said during the hearing.


Sanchez cited economists who analyzed the proposal from California’s reparations task force and found it could cost $800 billion. 

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“That’s two and a half times the size of our entire state budget,” she said. “To pay for that, you’d need a major tax hike unlike anything this state has ever seen before. I recognize and acknowledge the painful part of our history. The pains of the past should not be paid by the people of today.”

The Republican lawmaker, who is Hispanic, noted that the majority of California’s population, 55%, is Latino or Asian, including many first- or second-generation immigrants “who had nothing to do with slavery, discrimination, Jim Crow laws.” 

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“It is fundamentally unfair to force these people to pay for this,” she said.

San Jose Democratic Assemblyman Ash Kalra responded, denying that reparations would be paid in an $800 billion “balloon payment from the state budget.” 

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“The reality is that actions are necessary, and that includes reparations. It includes, in some cases, monetary reparations,” said Kalra, who in 2016 became the first Indian American elected to the California Legislature and is chairman of the Judiciary Committee. 

“I understand that it’s hard to ask those of us currently sitting in the legislature to make those commitments, but no one asked Black families over generations if it was okay to take their wealth, if it was okay to enslave them, if it was okay to—” he said, pausing as he became emotional.

“If it was okay to put their children in generations of poverty. This country became a superpower based upon free labor of African descendants over hundreds of years. We need to recognize it.” 

“It’s not supposed to be easy to actually admit when you’ve caused pain,” Kalra added.

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After debate, the Judiciary Committee voted 9-3 to advance SB 1331 along party lines. The proposal is one of four reparations bills under consideration by the California legislature, according to the Sacramento Observer.

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In May, the state Senate passed three bills that were part of more than a dozen reparations bills introduced by the California Legislative Black Caucus, ABC7 reported. The bills “issue an apology to Black Californians for the state’s role in instituting slave laws and discriminatory practices since its founding,” the outlet wrote. The bills will now head to the California State Assembly for votes. 

California introduced a package of reparations bills in January that would give property compensation and cash payouts to the descendants of slaves and other Black Californians. The assembly voted down previous bills on the issue, including one which would have provided homeownership aid and another which would have offered property tax relief for descendants of slaves, according to ABC7.

SB 1331 allocates funds for reparations policies signed into law by the governor. 

Fox News Digital’s Yael Halon contributed to this report.

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