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How California’s sanctuary law protects workers

Immigration is back in the news lately. Since immigration is largely a federal matter, the decisions made by lawmakers in Washington affect the ability of thousands of Californians to remain in this country.

However, the California Assembly has taken steps to protect foreign nationals living and working in the state. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Immigration Worker Protection Act last year, and the law officially went into effect on Jan. 1. The law makes California a “sanctuary” state in opposition to the Trump administration’s hard-line policy against undocumented workers.

California Immigration Employee Sanctuary Law

From an employment law perspective, the new law greatly limits employers’ ability to comply with ICE agents during an immigration raid. For example:

  • Employers must ask ICE agents for a warrant before letting them enter.
  • Employers must notify employees before a federal audit of employee records.
  • Employers are prohibited from voluntarily sharing workers’ confidential information with ICE without being served a subpoena, or asking workers to re-verify information they have already provided on employment forms, unless compelled by federal law.

Employers who violate the law can be fined up to $10,000.

ICE Raids Coming?

These new rules may be put to the test soon. The Sacramento Bee is reporting that ICE may be planning a massive raid of Northern California workplaces. State Attorney General Xavier Becerrea reminded employers of their obligations at a Jan. 18 press conference. “We will prosecute those who violate the law,” Becerrea said.

Even if you are a U.S. citizen or have a green card, you could be subject to illegal conduct by your supervisors, managers or co-workers, such as wrongful termination. To assert your rights as a worker, you should consult an experienced employment law attorney.