NPR Story
11:49 am
Thu May 30, 2013

California Legislature Pushing Bills to Protect Immigrant Rights

California has the highest number of immigrants without documentation: 2.6 million immigrants or 7 percent of the total state population. Another statistic, one in six Californian children have a parent who’s living in the U.S. illegally.

With such a large population, California has lot to gain when it comes passing comprehensive immigration reform.

According to a report, What’s At Stake For The State, by the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, one conservative estimate says authorization and citizenship of these immigrants "would inject an annual boost of more than $4.5 billion into the California economy.”

Given the stakes, the state legislature is taking action, even before the federal government considers immigration reform. A handful of bills have been introduced into the state legislature advocating the rights of immigrants. Here are four interesting ones:

AB 263: Raises fines against employers to $10,000 who retaliate against undocumented workers. It is a two-strike rule — a second offense would permanently revoke a business license.

It would also make retaliation a misdemeanor, punishable by jail time.

KQED: "It also specifies actions that would be considered retaliatory if employers do them within 90 days of a worker making a complaint, attempting to unionize or participating in a public investigation or hearing about working conditions"

Status: AB 263 passed the House on May 29, and is currently under consideration in the Senate.

SB 666: Lawyers who threaten to reveal the status of unauthorized immigrants in an attempt to block them from testifying or filing a complaint could face potential debarment.

Law.com: "Lawyers can already be disciplined by the State Bar for acts of dishonesty or "moral turpitude." The new language, supporters said, will give immigrant workers the protection they need to file a complaint against an unscrupulous attorney."

Status: SB 666 passed the Senate, currently under consideration in the Assembly.:

AB 4, or the “Trust Act,” would limit the crimes that local law enforcement can report to federal immigration agencies when the suspect is living in the United States illegally.

IVN: The bill would lay out specific crimes that would be exempt from the federal reporting requirement. This means city, county, and state law enforcement officials would be prevented from taking suspects into custody for the specific purpose of handing them over to the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for committing these crimes.

Status: AB 4 passed the House, and is currently under consideration in the Senate.

AB 60 would allow immigrants living here without legal documentation the ability to obtain a driver’s license without having a social security number. In its place, an applicant could provide several forms of identification like a college or school transcript, federal tax number or an original birth certificate.

Status: Passed Senate assembly, AB 60 passed the House on May 29, and is currently in the Senate..

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