"For me this is about policy, not about politics," State Senator Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres said. "It's about doing the right thing and I think this is about righting a wrong."
What may indicate the tide is turning -- four Republican state lawmakers joined Democrats in supporting a resolution urging the federal government to pass immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for the millions in the United States illegally.
"First of all, I represent the 12th Senate District, I don't represent the Republican Party," Cannella said. "I do what's best for my district. Number two, this is going to happen. And if anyone wants to get in the way, they're going to be steamrolled over."
The announcement comes as a surprise from members whose own party is known for being tough on illegal immigrants.
In California's gubernatorial primary, the GOP didn't want to talk about a pathway to citizenship. In the Presidential election, Mitt Romney pushed for self-deportation.
But with a dismal 29 percent of California voters registered as Republicans and very few GOP members holding Legislative office, some say they had to change.
"Is it time for the Republicans?" State Senator Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana asked. "I think it's time for a lot of folks to finally wake up and see what's going on."
Some Republicans, though, say people shouldn't be surprised they're embracing immigration reform considering it aligns well with their beliefs, which often is overshadowed by inflammatory rhetoric.
"In many ways, it fits into the core principals of the Republican party: opportunity, prosperity, entrepreneurialism, rewarding hard work," Assemblyman Jeff Gorrell, R-Camarillo said.
The GOP is also facing the reality that the Latino population in California is on track to surpass the Caucasian population early next year.
"The Republicans, they definitely know they need us for the next elections," Whittier resident Diana Colin said. "So, this is the year; the time is now."
In another surprise move, Senator Cannella announced he's co-authoring a Democratic bill to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for drivers licenses.