California Governor Restricts, Expands Immigrant Rights Through Legislation

(ESPAÑOL) California has recently seen a drastic shift in its immigrant rights with the acceptance and veto of significant legislation.

Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed the Transparent Review of Unjust Transfers and Holds, commonly known as the TRUTH Act, which also requires local law enforcement agencies to provide immigrants the same information they share with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

“Behind closed doors, ICE has inserted itself into the fragile relationship between local police and immigrant communities by requesting local police take on the role of federal immigration agents,” Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, who authored the TRUTH Act, said in a statement.

With the law, “California leads the nation with sensible immigration policies that protect the rights of immigrants and shine a light on flawed federal priorities,” Bonta added.

In his signing statement, Brown said the bill, “reflects a measured approach to due process and transparency principles.”

Brown also signed into law SB1139, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, which will prevent a person from being denied admission into medical school solely based on immigration status.

Known as the Medical DREAMER Opportunity Act, it also will ensure that undocumented students who are pursuing medical professions have the ability to compete for scholarships and access the state’s loan forgiveness programs.

But while immigrant rights organizations praised Brown for signing these two bills, they also criticized him for his decision to veto a bill known as the Dignity not Detention Act, also sponsored by Lara.

SB1289 would have made it illegal for a city, county or local law enforcement agency to enter into a contract with a private corporation to detain immigrants in civil immigration proceedings for profit.

“I am disappointed by the governor’s decision to veto a bill that would have improved conditions at immigration detention facilities and ended the practice of profiting off of human suffering,” Lara said in a statement.

In his veto message, Brown, however, said he found the unsatisfactory conditions and limited access to counsel in private immigration detention facilities troubling, but added that the Department of Homeland Security is considering whether private contracting should continue for immigration detention.