California Steps Forward to Protect Immigrants from Anticipated Trump Administration Policies

California Steps Forward to Protect Immigrants from Anticipated Trump Administration Policies

THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Jessica Hanson, NILC Skadden Fellow
DECEMBER 15, 2016

Three measures recently introduced in the California legislature would provide much-needed support to immigrants who live in the state, and would erect roadblocks against aggressive immigration enforcement efforts anticipated under the incoming Trump administration. Two senators and an assemblymember introduced the bills on Dec. 5.

The Due Process for All Act (SB 6), introduced by Senator Ben Hueso, would create a state program to fund legal representation for immigrants in deportation proceedings. President-elect Trump has stated that he will increase deportations, and California has the largest population of immigrants in the country. Noncitizens are many times more likely to win their immigration cases when they are represented by an attorney, yet there is no constitutional right to legal representation in deportation proceedings. The Due Process for All Act recognizes that California can—and should—provide legal representation to defend its residents against detention and deportation while continuing to reject any normalization of Trump’s divisive rhetoric about “good” and “bad” immigrants.

Some people call the California Values Act (SB 54), introduced by Senator Kevin De León, the “ICE Out of Everywhere” bill, because it aims to curb state and local data-sharing and the use of any state or local agency resources to help U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in any way. The bill would require public schools, hospitals, and courthouses in California to adopt policies that restrict ICE activity and other immigration enforcement on their premises.

The California Values Act would also require California agencies to review their existing confidentiality policies and make changes as necessary to ensure that agencies collect only information that is necessary to perform the function or service of the agency and that individuals’ information is not disclosed for any other purpose.

Finally, the California Values Act would prohibit any California resources from being used to assist in a ban against Muslim immigrants or a national registry that targets people of certain religions.

Also on Dec. 5, Assemblymember Rob Bonta introduced a measure that would help bring California into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Padilla v. Kentucky. The Padilla decision requires that defense attorneys properly advise their clients on the immigration consequences of pleas in criminal court. Bonta’s bill, the Preventing Avoidable Deportations with Effective Assistance of Counsel Act (AB 3), also known as the “Padilla bill,” would provide funding to assure that public defenders in California are trained in immigration law and the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.

As we wait to see whether and how Trump translates his campaign rhetoric about mass deportations and new, onerous restrictions on immigrants into actual policy and action, it is more important than ever to build community and make California a model of resistance. These bills show that Californians are gearing up to support each other even more, and to reject Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.