Pro-immigrant laws signed by governor of California

In October, California Governor Jerry Brown signed several bills into law that will help undocumented immigrants in various ways. Among the measures Brown approved was the TRUST Act, which limits who state and local police can hold for possible deportation.

“While Washington waffles on immigration, California’s forging ahead,” Brown said in a statement. “I’m not waiting.”

The list of pro-immigrant laws signed last month by the Governor include the following:

• AB 60 extends the legal right to drive on the state’s roadways to undocumented immigrants. Such permits will be issued only to authorize operation of motor vehicles and will not be accepted to establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits. Applicants will have to pass a driving test and provide a proof of identity and California residency to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Pursuant to the bill, the California DMV will be accepting consular identification cards, passports, birth certificates and other documents to establish the applicant’s identity. Income tax returns, school transcripts, utility bills, and other documentation will be acceptable to prove California residency;

• AB 4 forbids a law enforcement official from detaining an individual on the basis of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody, unless the individual is charged with a serious crime;

• AB 35 states that only immigration consultants, attorneys, notaries public, and organizations accredited by the United States Board of Immigration Appeals are authorized to charge a fee for providing services associated with filing an application under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s deferred action program.

• AB 524 makes it a crime to threaten to report the immigration status or suspected immigration status of an individual or the individual’s family;

• AB 1024 allows undocumented immigrants to be admitted as an attorney at law.

• AB 1159 imposes various restrictions and obligations on persons who offer services related to comprehensive immigration reform.

• SB 150 authorizes a community college district to exempt pupils attending community colleges as a special part-time student from paying nonresident tuition.

• SB 666 provides for a suspension or revocation of an employer’s business license for retaliation against employees and others on the basis of citizenship and immigration status, and establishes a civil penalty up to $10,000 per violation.

These laws are a huge step forward for our state. It means that undocumented immigrants will now be able to drive legally. It means that they will not automatically be put in deportation proceedings if they do have a traffic stop or some other minor criminal charge. It means that they can no longer be the victims of extortion or threats from employers or colleagues based upon their immigration status. It means that they will now be better protected from persons engaging in the unauthorized practice of law such as notaries and others exploiting the immigrant population.

Let’s hope this is the precursor to Comprehensive Immigration Reform at the federal government level.

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