In a highly progressive and unprecedented move, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed eight new bills into law that guarantee more rights to undocumented immigrants in the state. Recently, Gov. Brown signed into California state law a worker bill of rights that extend the rights and benefits of those working in the domestic care industry, ensuring overtime and lunch breaks, among other benefits.
Of the new laws, perhaps the most controversial, AB 1024, “authorize[s] the [state] Supreme Court to admit to the practice of law an applicant who is not lawfully present in the United States.” Plainly stated, undocumented immigrants can now practice law in California.
Other laws protect undocumented immigrants from frivolous detainment by law enforcement, even under federal instructions unless it involves “serious crimes and convictions.” Also, it’s against the law for a business to take any action against their employees because of citizenship status, and, on Thursday, a bill was signed that will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.
Gov. Brown exclaimed that “While Washington waffles on immigration, California’s forging ahead, I’m not waiting.”
Other state politicians have praised Brown’s strong efforts at increasing the rights of California’s 2.6 million undocumented residents.
“The bills that were signed by the governor today show that California is bucking the trend that we’ve seen in other states over the last few years,” said Assemblyman Luis Alejo. “States that have enacted legislation that really restricted or attacked immigrants.”
California has one of the largest Hispanic populations in the country. Of the state’s total population of 38 million, 38 percent are Hispanic.