Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills today that continues California’s challenge to Trump’s deportation machine and goes further than any state to put immigrant protections into law.
The bills, both authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), are AB450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act, that affirmatively protects workers from immigration enforcement through disruptive workplace raids. AB 450 comes as arrests of immigrants with no criminal record have more than doubled so far in 2017, and many advocates for immigrants fear that worksite raids are next. The Act will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
“Governor Brown understands that in an environment of division and fear, California must continue to defend its workers, to guard its values, and to ensure that its laws protect all of our residents,” said Assemblymember Chiu, a son of immigrants and a former civil rights attorney. “AB 450 demonstrates California’s determination to protect our economy and the people who are working hard to contribute to our communities and raise their families in dignity. At the same time, we are offering employers clarity about what to do when ICE agents target their places of business with indiscriminate raids.”
The second bill AB 291, the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, strengthens state law to protect immigrant tenants from intimidation and retaliation in their homes. The measure will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
“Tenants should not have to live in fear simply because they are immigrants or refugees. Trump’s escalating war on immigrants is ripping apart families and mass deportations could be our new reality,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “This bill will deter the small minority of landlords who unscrupulously take advantage of the real or perceived immigration status of their tenants to engage in abusive acts. I appreciate the leadership of Governor Brown on this civil rights issue.”
“We need this law to protect families with undocumented members from this type of abuse,” said Maria, a grandmother from Oakland who testified earlier this year in committee about her experience with a landlord who threatened to report her family members to ICE if they did not stop asking for much-needed repairs. “No one should have to experience the fear, pain, or harassment my family has suffered just because they are undocumented.”
“AB 291 makes clear that immigration status should not be used as leverage against tenants by landlords who want to profit off of slum conditions or unlawfully evict families to take advantage of rising rents. In a year that has brought unimaginable levels of fear into immigrants’ lives, we hope that this bill will offer them some measure of security in their own homes,” said Jith Meganathan, Policy Advocate for Western Center on Law & Poverty, a co-sponsor of the legislation.
AB 291 bars landlords from disclosing information related to tenants’ immigration status for the purpose of retaliation, harassment, or to influence a tenant to vacate the home. The bill would also prohibit landlords from threatening to report tenants to immigration authorities, whether in retaliation for engaging in legally-protected activities or to influence them to vacate.
Landlords are in possession of sensitive information about tenants such as their social security numbers, the number of people in their household, the language(s) they speak, what they do for a living, and when they are home. This measure will make sure that this information is not misused by landlords and will take away one avenue that the Trump Administration could use to deport our immigrant neighbors.