Trump Crackdown on Illegal Immigrants Puts California at Odds with the Feds


Sacramento, CA: While the undocumented worker would feel understandably vulnerable in the face of the most recent crackdown by the Trump Administration on undocumented immigrants, California’s undocumented workers can at least take heart in the existence of various state statutes and laws that protect workers, including updates to laws that came into effect the same month as President Trump was sworn in. Undocumented workers also make up an important part of the state economy overall, translating into a vested interest on the part of the State in the undocumented worker.

The rhetoric lobbed out during both the race for the Republican nomination, and the eventual Presidential campaign, had already put the State of California at odds with the incoming Administration’s policies. The most recent announcement that Trump seeks to round up as many as 11 million illegal immigrants and undocumented workers across the US – without criminal records and in some cases just for parking infractions – needlessly threatens both the undocumented worker in the State, and the economy of California overall.

It is still too early to tell if the State of California would ever consider calling up its undocumented worker lawyer and filing an undocumented worker lawsuit against the Feds in an effort to protect the state economy, but it remains a compelling thought.

Earlier this month the Los Angeles Times (02/06/17) put the value of undocumented workers into perspective: in sum, ten percent of the California economy is supported by undocumented workers and comprises one-tenth of the state labor force, according to statistics compiled by the University of Southern California (USC).

Agriculture, construction and the hospitality industries would be hit particularly hard were the Trump ban on immigrants and undocumented workers achieve full press: nearly half of the agriculture employment sector in the state – 45 percent – is comprised of undocumented workers. Data collected by the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration noted that 21 percent of construction workers in the state are undocumented.

The LA Times noted that the restaurant industry would be hit particularly hard, in that restaurants are already grappling with a labor shortage. New immigration policies at the federal level would make things even tighter – although it remains to be seen what effect federal policy would have on state policy.

There is little question, by virtue of pre-existing as well as updated laws and statutes protecting the undocumented worker, that California values its undocumented residents and is fully aware of both their value to the state economy, and the hit to economic output were those undocumented workers suddenly to go away: economic output in the state could be reduced, at minimum, by nine percent.

Meanwhile, some state laws and statutes protecting undocumented workers in California have either been updated, augmented or implemented as of January 1 of this year. Amongst those provisions are Senate Bill 1001, which includes a provision under the California Fair Housing and Employment Act for a $10,000 penalty for E-Verify violations on the part of any employer who discriminates against drivers licenses issued to undocumented workers – or requests more, or different documents than are required under federal law. Employers are also prohibited from demanding to see a worker’s US Passport.

Also taking effect this year is Senate Bill 10 Health Care Coverage: Immigration Status, an amendment that would allow undocumented immigrants and deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) recipients, the right and freedom to purchase a health plan through Covered California.

Not only does the state of California value its undocumented workers, the state also wants them to stay healthy – and educated: SB-1139, known by some as the ‘Medical Dreamers Opportunity Act,’ would prohibit a student without lawful immigrant status from being denied admission to a school of his, or her choice based upon citizenship or immigration status.

Any undocumented worker who alleges any discrimination, unfair practice or violation can, under Senate Bill 1001: Employment Unfair Practices file a complaint – with their undocumented worker lawyer in tow – through California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

The message from California to the Trump Administration remains the same: undocumented workers in the state are valued, and are integral to the state economy.

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