California is the second most populous state in the U.S., and also has one of the largest populations of undocumented workers in the country. The governor of the state, Jerry Brown, signed legislation earlier this month which is intended to clarify when undocumented immigrants can be detained for deportation by law enforcement, and another bill which defines certain circumstances under which they may be allowed to practice law. These changes come as part of a major overhaul of California’s immigration laws, and also come on the heels of Brown’s signing of a law which allows unauthorized immigrants to obtain a driver’s license which will be created for them.
As part of a package which included 8 bills, Assembly Bill 4 will prohibit the detention for deportation of people who are arrested for a minor crime. The bill was meant to address growing concerns that undocumented immigrants are being discriminated against in California.
The bill was not without its critics, including the California District Attorney Association, which feared that potentially violent criminals could unintentionally be set free as a result of the law. The association also opined that the law could hurt the cooperation between federal and state officials.
Among the law enforcement community no consensus was reached with respect to the new law. One issue which seemed to divide the community was the law’s effect on police activity. Some officers believed that the law would allow witnesses and others to come forward with valuable information regarding ongoing investigations without being afraid of deportation. Others feared that the passage of the law would remove a valuable tool which officers use to apply pressure in order to get information.
Also included in the package of the bills were AB 1024, which allows unauthorized immigrants to get a law license if they have successfully passed the bar exam, and AB 1159 which is meant to stop attorney from unethically promising to help immigrants obtain permission to stay in the United States in relation to the U.S. Congress’s potential passage of comprehensive immigration reform. Congress has yet to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The passage of AB 1159 is especially important as there are sometimes unscrupulous business people, even in the legal community, who attempt to take advantage of immigrants. Though I practice immigration law in Austin, this kind of practice undoubtedly occurs here, and in many locations in the United States as well. It is very important, when choosing an immigration attorney, that you choose someone strong, knowledgeable, and ethical.
At Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC, we specialize in all types of immigration and family law. If you, or someone you know, have a legal matter to discuss, give us a call at (512) 215-5225to arrange a consultation.