The spotlight has been on Washington as the U.S. Senate prepares to take up a comprehensive reform bill and the House continues to negotiate its own version. But in the meantime, California legislators have been busy tackling a long list of state bills that relate to immigration, including workers.
Friday was the last day for bills in the state Assembly and Senate to clear the house they originated from; from there they go on to the next chamber and, if successful, the governor's desk — although some of these bills have been there already.
Here are the main immigration-related California bills that have made it this far:
AB 4, the TRUST Act: Perhaps the best-known of the California bills, this one passed the Assembly in mid-May. The bill would place restrictions on who state and local cops may hold for deportation at the request of federal agents, limiting it to only immigrants with serious criminal convictions. This is the amended measure's third time through the Assembly. A version made it as far as Gov. Jerry Brown's desk last year, but he vetoed it.
AB 60, driver's licenses: This bill would allow people who don't qualify for a Social Security number to apply for a driver's license. Immigrants would be able to use alternatives such as a birth certificate, along with proof of residence. The plan would allow many more unauthorized immigrants to obtain licenses; right now, only those with temporary legal status under the federal deferred action program may apply. Measures to allow more lenient license policies have been on the move in several states, including Nevada.
AB 263 and SB 666, immigrant workers' rights: These two bills would penalize employers that retaliate against immigrant workers who complain about working conditions by threatening to report their immigration status to authorities; the Senate bill in particular addresses attorneys who engage in retaliation. Employers who violate the law would face steep fines and could have their business licenses revoked.
AB 524, immigration status and extortion: Along the same lines comes this bill. Its aim is to deter employers from threatening workers by defining as extortion threats made to report a person's immigration status — or that of an individual's family members — to authorities.
AB 241, domestic workers: This bill is part of a long-running effort to give domestic workers, the bulk of them immigrants in California, a "bill of rights" that would guarantee them paid overtime, breaks and other rights on the job. A previous version of the bill made it to Gov. Brown's desk last year but was vetoed.
AB 817, immigrant poll workers: The idea of this bill is to boost the number of available bilingual poll workers by allowing non-citizen, legal permanent residents to work and volunteer at polling places during elections. Counties would be allowed to recruit as many as five legal permanent residents to work per precinct.
AB 1195, immigrant crime victims: This bill would allow victims to have access to crime reports, regardless of their legal status. It would also stipulate that state and local authorities can't deny them access based on their status. It's scheduled for a state Senate hearing this week.
SB 23, immigrant integration: This bill would require the governor's office to set up a "Task Force on New American Integration," which would make recommendations on immigrant integration, i.e., getting people on track to naturalization, English instruction, etc. The task force would last until the beginning of 2018, dovetailing with federal immigration reform — if that happens.
Expect for the TRUST Act (an acronym for "Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools") and driver's licenses to get the most attention among the state bills.
But for now at least, the focus will be on Washington, where the Senate is expected to take up its reform bill next week, while the House determines which direction it will take. Some House lawmakers have been introducing stand-alone immigration bills as the group crafting a comprehensive bill struggles to bridge a partisan divide.