Governor Brown Signs Three New Immigration-Related Bills: Bars the term “Alien” in California Law

California continues to be on the forefront of enacting immigrant friendly policies.  On August 10, Governor Brown signed three new immigration-related bills into law, including one that removes the term “alien” from California’s Labor Code, that are aimed at improving the lives of immigrants and their families living and working in the State of California.

The first bill, SB432, bans the use of the term “alien” to describe foreign-born workers in the California Labor Code.  Previously, Labor Code Sections 1725 and 2015 required public works employers to extend preferential treatment in hiring to U.S. citizens. The new law also repeals this citizenship-based hiring preference for public works jobs.  This is an important step in California’s gradual move toward creating an environment that values and protects its many immigrant workers.

Presently, California has some of the strongest worker protection laws, including laws that went into effect in 2014, that aim at curbing immigration-related retaliation by employers.  We remind workers, Unions, and worker advocates to use and enforce these California laws, including: Labor Code Section 1019, Unfair Immigration-Related Practices; Labor Code Section 1024.6, Protects against retaliation for updating personal information; Labor Code Section 244, Exhaustion of remedies & Reports to Immigration; Business and Professions Code Section 6103.7, Suspension of Lawyers’ license for reporting immigration status; and expansions under Labor Code 98.6 and 1102.5.

The second bill, AB 554, allows high school students who are legal permanent residents (i.e. green card holders) to serve as poll workers in California elections.  Currently, high school poll workers must be U.S. citizens, whereas, adult poll workers may be legal permanent residents.  Allowing legal resident immigrant students to participate in poll work helps fill the translation needs of California’s diverse population and exposes these students to civic participation. 

Finally, the third bill prohibits the consideration of a child’s immigration status in civil actions involving liability.  The bill was enacted in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of children against L.A. Unified over alleged sexual misconduct by a former teacher.  In the lawsuit, the School District wanted the Court to allow inquiry into the children’s immigration status for purposes of determining liability and remedy.  

All three laws go into effect on January 1, 2016.  

By Xochitl Lopez | September 24, 2015

Legal Developments