California Immigration Laws
Challenged in Federal Lawsuit

California immigration On March 6, 2018, the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in Federal Court challenging 3 California immigration laws.

The lawsuit contends that the laws “reflect a deliberate effort by California to obstruct the United States’ enforcement of federal immigration law” and that they “impede consultation and communication between federal and state law enforcement officials.”

California Governor Jerry Brown responded calling the lawsuit a “political stunt”.

Former US Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. wrote a letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions while the California Values Act (SB 54) was being considered by the state legislature stating that while the Federal Government has the authority to enforce US immigration laws, it lacks the power to draft state and local officials to assist them in doing so.

On July 5, 2018, Federal Judge John Mendez ruled that the California Values Act and the Detention Review Act did not conflict with federal immigration laws.  However, he he granted the Trump administration a preliminary injunction of a provision in California’s Immigrant Worker Protection Act (IWPA) that limits an employer’s ability to reverify an employee’s I-9 eligibility for a job. The injunction also permits employers to allow federal immigration agents to access non-public areas of the workplace absent a judicial warrant.


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The California immigration laws which are being challenged are as follows:

The California Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450) became effective on January 1, 2018. It prohibits businesses from allowing federal immigration agents to gain access to employee records without a court order or subpoena. However, if federal agents have a Notice of Inspection, they can gain access to I-9 forms within 72 hours. California employers are required to provide notice to employees about any Notice of Inspection as well as the results of I-9 audits by the Federal government. Employers can be fined up to $10,000 for violating this law.

The California Values Act (SB 54) which also went into effect on January 1, 2018 limits state and local agencies from sharing information with federal officers about criminals or suspects unless they have been convicted of serious crimes.

The Detention Review Act (AB 103) prohibits new contracts for immigration detention in California and gives the state attorney general the authority to monitor all state immigration detention centers. This legislation was passed in response to reports of rampant mistreatment and abuse in federal detention facilities, many of which are run by private companies that act as federal contractors. California has been inspecting many of these facilities and demanding access to documents regarding some of the inmates.

US Department of Justice Challenges California Immigration Laws

California Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450)

California Values Act (SB 54)

Detention Review Act (AB 103)

We will keep you informed as the lawsuit makes it’s way through the Federal Court system.

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