The state of California has been granting undocumented immigrants who reside in the state benefits, unprecedented rights, and protections for some time now. It began with in-state tuition, then driver’s licenses, new rules to limit deportations and state-funded healthcare for children. This past Monday came a new law to erase the word “alien” from California’s labor code.
Democratic lawmakers and immigration activists continue to seek new laws and protections. These measures include pursuing employers who withhold pay from low-wage employees and expand state-subsidized healthcare to adult immigrants without legal documentation.
Other states such as Connecticut have adopted components of the package. The too offer in-state tuition, driver’s licenses, and passed legislation known as the Trust Act to help limit deportations before California did.
Most of these laws were passed after 2000, and became especially plentiful after 2012, when President Obama took executive action that shielded from deportation people who were brought to the country illegally.
For those individuals affected by Obama’s order, the state of California was one of the firsts to authorize driver’s licenses. Two years later, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law enabling all undocumented individuals in the U.S. to seek licenses. That same year, the state expanded in-state tuition for more students in the country illegally and allowed individuals without legal status to obtain law and other professional licenses.
Those who advocate for stricter immigration laws have acknowledged their side has won few victories in recent years.