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New California Bill Would Put Major Limits on Immigration Disclosures in State Court

Under the Trump Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been using increasingly harsh, aggressive immigration enforcement tactics. Among other things, there have been reports that ICE has even started detaining people at courthouses.

California lawmakers are now responding. A new bill, (Senate Bill 785), recently passed by the legislature, would provide major protections to immigrants in California courts. As reported by the Santa Cruz Sentinel, this bill puts strict limits on what information can be disclosed regarding a person’s immigration status in a California court. Here, our dedicated Los Angeles immigration attorney highlights the three most important things you need to know about this bill.  

  • Senate Bill 785 Still Needs Governor Jerry Brown’s Signature

As it has been approved by the state senate, California’s immigration disclosure law is now heading to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown. Notably, this bill passed with relative ease, winning support in a 31-6 vote. The bill even has significant bipartisan backing, with half of the chamber’s Republican members voting in favor of the law. Governor Brown is expected to sign Senate Bill 785. If and when he does, the law will take immediate effect.

  • The Law Would Help Reinforce California Courts as Safe Zones

Courthouses should be safe zones for all members of the community. A court is a place that should work towards public safety and justice. Immigration enforcement efforts at California courthouses only make our community less secure. A case from last year demonstrates why this law is necessary.

In 2017, during a trial in a San Francisco courthouse, a California mother was asked to testify in the criminal case against the man who had allegedly abused her daughter. During her testimony, questions came up regarding her immigration status. Eventually, the judge ruled that such questions were wholly irrelevant to the proceedings, and thus, the jury could not consider them. However, the jury came back deadlocked. Later, when the prosecutors attempted to retry the domestic abuse case, the mother refused to testify a second time. She cited the questions she received about her immigration status and the aggressive efforts that have been made by federal immigration enforcement officers.  

  • All Irrelevant Immigration Disclosures Would Be Prohibited

Senate Bill 785 prohibits all irrelevant immigration disclosures in state courts. Victims, witnesses, and even defendants will not be made to answer questions about immigration status when testifying about an unrelated issue. The law provides strong protection for California’s immigrant communities, and it has become especially necessary in light of the actions and statements coming from President Trump and other officials within the Trump Administration.  

We Support Immigrants in Southern California

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, we are committed to protecting the rights and interests of immigrants. If you or a family member has questions or concerns about immigration law, our legal team is prepared to help. For a confidential consultation, please call us today at (213) 262-2000. We represent clients throughout Los Angeles County, including in Compton, Downey, Lakewood, and Torrance.