Gov. Jerry Brown signs two immigrant protection billsAround the Nation, Online Only, Top Highlights Thursday, October 5th, 2017
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills today that continues California’s challenge to Trump’s deportation machine and goes further than any state to put immigrant protections into law.
The bills, both authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), are AB450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, that affirmatively protects workers from immigration enforcement through disruptive workplace raids. AB 450 comes as arrests of immigrants with no criminal record have more than doubled so far in 2017, and many advocates for immigrants fear that worksite raids are next. The Act will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
“Governor Brown understands that in an environment of division and fear, California must continue to defend its workers, to guard its values, and to ensure that its laws protect all of our residents,” said Assemblymember Chiu, a son of immigrants and a former civil rights attorney. “AB 450 demonstrates California’s determination to protect our economy and the people who are working hard to contribute to our communities and raise their families in dignity. At the same time, we are offering employers clarity about what to do when ICE agents target their places of business with indiscriminate raids.”
California has not had a good history with worksite raids. Past raids occurred under the auspices of narrow individual arrest warrants that ICE used to question and detain every single worker at a worksite, including U.S. citizens and workers lawfully present – violating their basic constitutional rights.
“California has the chance to lead the nation and demonstrate that the answer to mindless hate and indiscriminate targeting of immigrants is respect for every individual’s legal rights and due process,” said David Huerta, SEIU USWW President. “By signing AB 450, the Governor stood up for fairness and the rule of law. This measure not only protects workers from unfair detention, it also helps workers know their rights and offers employers important clarity about appropriate action to take when ICE agents target their businesses with indiscriminate raids. One in every 10 workers in California is an undocumented immigrant. Immigrants pick our crops, prepare our meals, care for our children and elders, clean our buildings, and are woven into the fabric of our workplaces, our economy, and our lives. California must take every step it can to ensure that our workplaces do not become the site of illegal detention and wanton violations of workers’ rights.”
“Immigrant workers shouldn’t have to live in fear on the job,” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. “AB 450 builds on California’s proud tradition of protecting all workers. Given the threats immigrants face, this law is critical to California’s efforts to keep workers safe and families from being ripped apart.”
The second bill AB 291, the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, strengthens state law to protect immigrant tenants from intimidation and retaliation in their homes. The measure will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
“Tenants should not have to live in fear simply because they are immigrants or refugees. Trump’s escalating war on immigrants is ripping apart families and mass deportations could be our new reality,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “This bill will deter the small minority of landlords who unscrupulously take advantage of the real or perceived immigration status of their tenants to engage in abusive acts. I appreciate the leadership of Governor Brown on this civil rights issue.”
“We need this law to protect families with undocumented members from this type of abuse,” said Maria, a grandmother from Oakland who testified earlier this year in committee about her experience with a landlord who threatened to report her family members to ICE if they did not stop asking for much-needed repairs. “No one should have to experience the fear, pain, or harassment my family has suffered just because they are undocumented.”
“AB 291 makes clear that immigration status should not be used as leverage against tenants by landlords who want to profit off of slum conditions or unlawfully evict families to take advantage of rising rents. In a year that has brought unimaginable levels of fear into immigrants’ lives, we hope that this bill will offer them some measure of security in their own homes,” said Jith Meganathan, Policy Advocate for Western Center on Law & Poverty, a co-sponsor of the legislation.
AB 291 bars landlords from disclosing information related to tenants’ immigration status for the purpose of retaliation, harassment, or to influence a tenant to vacate the home. The bill would also prohibit landlords from threatening to report tenants to immigration authorities, whether in retaliation for engaging in legally-protected activities or to influence them to vacate.
Landlords are in possession of sensitive information about tenants such as their social security numbers, the number of people in their household, the language(s) they speak, what they do for a living, and when they are home. This measure will make sure that this information is not misused by landlords and will take away one avenue that the Trump Administration could use to deport our immigrant neighbors.
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