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2011 CA Legislation Aids Immigrant Integration; Further Contrasting CA From Neighboring AZ

2011 CA Legislation Aids Immigrant  Integration; Further Contrasting CA From Neighboring AZ

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With the recent end-of-session bill signings by California Governor Jerry Brown, 2011 has proven a good year for laws that further distinguish from neighboring Arizona and other states that have recently enacted virulently anti-immigrant laws. A set of significant immigrants’ rights bills, some sponsored and all strongly supported by MALDEF, the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization, help to guarantee future success in California as law enforcement concentrates on serious crime and employers can adopt cost-effective hiring practices.

MALDEF, through its newly re-established Sacramento office, worked diligently with allies inside and outside of the Legislature to secure laws that assist California in becoming a DREAM state that welcomes rather than shuns hard-working Latino immigrants, that celebrates rather than condemns the diversity that makes America great, and that protects rather than assaults the constitutional and civil rights of children and families.

MALDEF lauds the approval by the California Legislature and Gov. Brown of these important immigrant rights measures, and hopes that the progress made in California will spread across the nation, with these and similar bills enacted in other states.

However, two significant bills passed by the Legislature were vetoed by Gov. Brown. MALDEF looks forward to working with the administration and Legislature to deal with concerns about the two vetoed bills and to bring measures to enactment in 2012 that focus on the issues the two bills addressed. Still, the achievement of a DREAM state in California for immigrant integration is a few steps closer after the 2011 legislative session.

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated, “California is poised to demonstrate to the nation that success comes from inclusion and integration, not from exclusion and division. These laws are a model for contributing to a tolerant and successful state that respects the rights of all.”

Jeannette Zanipatin, MALDEF Legislative Staff Attorney, added, “Immigrants and Latinos in California fared well this legislative session. California again bucks the trend and sets the foundation to not only recognize the important contributions immigrants make to our society, but to also understand the significant role they play in the state that is the eighth largest economy in the world.”

Below please find a brief summary of the five immigrants’ rights bills now signed into law and the two bills vetoed by Gov. Brown.

The immigrants’ rights bills Governor Brown has signed into law include:

AB 130 (Cedillo, AD-45) signed on July 25, 2011 and AB 131 (Cedillo) signed on October 8, 2011—Together, the bills are known as the California DREAM Act, providing eligibility for private and state-funded financial aid to undocumented students;

AB 207 (Ammiano, AD-13) signed on October 3, 2011—Establishing statewide rules on documents that may be required in public school enrollment, facilitating compliance with Plyler v. Doe and the enrollment of all children, regardless of status;

AB 353 (Cedillo) signed on October 9, 2011—Restricting the ability of law enforcement to impound vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers and facilitating the release of vehicles that are impounded;

AB 844 (Lara, AD-50) signed on October 8, 2011—Allowing undocumented student government leaders in California colleges to receive grants or scholarships to facilitate their service the same as other student leaders; and

AB 1236 (Fong, AD-22) signed on October 9, 2011—Barring cities and counties from mandating use of the flawed and voluntary federal e-verify program (preventing several California cities from continuing to implement their E-verify mandate ordinances).


The two immigrants’ rights bills vetoed by Gov. Brown that MALDEF looks forward to addressing in 2012 are:

AB 111 (Yee, AD-8) vetoed on September 7, 2011—The bill would have clarified that businesses are prohibited from barring customers from speaking a language other than English; and

AB 1389 (Allen, AD-7) vetoed on October 9, 2011—The bill would have imposed important conditions on checkpoints, which have frequently resulted in harassment of undocumented drivers and impoundments of their vehicles.