State Makes it Easier for Illegal Immigrants to Drive, Harder to Avoid Deportation

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

It hasn’t been a good month for immigrant-rights advocates, who saw Governor Jerry Brown sign legislation enabling some who are here illegally to receive driver’s licenses through an already-enacted federal program, while vetoing a fistful of important bills.   

Brown ended a weeklong flurry of bill signings and vetoes by giving the Trust Act a thumbs down on Sunday night. Dubbed the Anti-Arizona Act, it would have limited local cooperation with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by not automatically running immigration checks on everyone they suspect is in the states illegally and not holding immigrants they wouldn’t otherwise hold.

ICE’s Secure Communities program deported around 400,000 undocumented immigrants last year and, not unexpectedly, is vehemently opposed by immigrant organizations. Supporters of the TRUST Act argue that the program turns local police departments into ICE outposts that use racial profiling to trap anyone who comes in contact with law enforcement, including victims of crime, witnesses to crime, informers and innocent bystanders.

TRUST Act sponsor Assemblyman Tom Ammiano estimated that 70,000 Californians have been deported via the program and 70% of them had either no criminal convictions, or convictions for a minor offense.

Brown also vetoed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB 889) and two farm worker protection bills—the Farm Worker Safety Act of 2012 (AB 2346) and the Humane Treatment for Farm Workers Act (AB 2676).

The domestic workers bill aimed at protecting a primarily female, immigrant workforce from abuse by providing overtime pay, easing eligibility requirements for workers' compensation and requiring that live-in workers be compensated if their break time is  interrupted. An estimated 200,000 caregivers, nannies and house cleaners would have been covered by the legislation.

The farm worker bills would have put some teeth into enforcing the state’s regulations regarding heat and job conditions, and up the penalties for not providing appropriate water and shade to workers.  

Brown did sign AB 2189, which makes around 350,000 Californians, who are eligible to receive work permits through a federal program, also eligible for driver’s licenses. The federal program was mandated by an executive order from President Barack Obama and applies to illegal immigrants who are older than 30 and came to the United States before they were 16.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

California Governor Brown Vetoes Bill that Allowed Towns to Release Undocumented Immigrants (by Miranda Leitsinger, NBC News)

Brown Vetoes Calif. Domestic Workers Rights Bill (by Hannah Dreier, Associated Press)

California Governor Vetoes Bill Curbing Deportation Checks (by Mary Slosson, Reuters)

California Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants Bill Signed Into Law by Gov. Jerry Brown (by Don Thompson, Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown's Split Annoys Immigrant-Rights Advocates (by Cindy Chang, Los Angeles Times)

Obama Administration Steps up Deportations in an Election Year . . . Again (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Standoff Looms if Brown Signs TRUST Immigration Bill (by Ken Broder, AllGov)

Is Governor Brown Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Immigrant Worker? (by Maegan Ortiz, Immigration Policy Politics)

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