California Vows to Protect Undocumented Workers

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Sacramento, CA: Following Donald Trump's election as US president, lawmakers have vowed to protect California's undocumented workers and other illegal immigrants from deportation. The move comes following promises from Trump to deport or incarcerate at least eleven million "criminal" immigrants. The California State Legislature, however, has passed resolutions that would challenge immigration policies that unfairly target or harm undocumented workers.

Undocumented workers are often the victim of workplace abuses because they fear deportation if they file complaints against their employers or supervisors. Although they are protected from deportation if they complain about illegal behavior at the workplace, the threat of action against them is often enough to silence those who do not know their rights. With new threats of deportation or incarceration for people who are here illegally, undocumented workers could face more victimization at the hands of their employers.

The Huffington Post (12/5/16) reports that at the start of its new session, the California legislature announced resolutions asking Trump to not follow through on his promised deportation policies. The resolutions, which are identical, note the importance role immigrants play in California's economy.

"Immigrants are vital to many of California's industries such as technology, health care, agriculture, construction, hospitality, and domestic services," read the resolutions. "Immigrants also represent a large percentage of small business owners and create [economic] prosperity and needed jobs for everyone."

According to a 2014 report from researchers at USC, undocumented workers make up almost 10 percent of California's workforce, and contribute $130 billion to the gross domestic product yearly. Individual industries face even higher rates of undocumented workers; almost 40 percent of the agriculture industry is made up of undocumented workers.

California also introduced two bills that would protect immigrants, including establishing a fund to pay for lawyers to defend immigrants at risk of deportation.

Among protections offered to immigrants in California are in-state tuition rates for undocumented students and driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.

"It is neither humane nor wise to ignore the many contributions of this community to our economy and culture," Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon said in a news release. "California celebrates diversity. We don't deport it."

Senate Leader de Leon also stated that California would not return to inhumane immigration policies used in the past.

Undocumented workers who are victims of harassment, discrimination, abuse, or other labor violations have the right to file complaints against their employer without risk of deportation.

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