Immigration Laws in California 101

Many people who want to relocate to the U.S. have questions about the Immigration Laws in California. Contact the Law Office of Diana L. Levy, P.A., for answers.

Overview of The Law

US federal immigration law governs immigration and deportation into and out of the country in accordance with national statutes, regulations, and precedents. It determines if a person is an alien, their rights, duties, and obligations, and how they become citizens or residents of the United States.

While immigration law falls under federal authority, certain California laws and policies significantly impact immigrants. In general, California’s immigration policies and practices are more immigrant-friendly than many other states. The State has passed several laws to ensure that the civil and labor rights of immigrants in their state are protected, that immigrants have access to higher education, and to spell out the role that local law enforcement agencies may play in federal immigration law enforcement.

As a result, the state of California is regarded as a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants, although this may conflict with federal immigration policies.

If you are facing any immigration issues or wish to emigrate to the US, consider consulting with an experienced, locally-based immigration lawyer.

Essential Elements of Immigration Law

Some of the essential laws that apply to immigrants in California include:

  1. The Immigrant Worker Protection Act prohibits employers from allowing immigration officials to enter the workplace without a warrant. It also requires employers to notify their employees in writing if immigration officials request employee records.
  2. Sanctuary State Law prohibits state and local law enforcement officials from cooperating with federal immigration officials, except in certain circumstances.
  3. AB 60 Driver’s License Law allows undocumented immigrants in California to obtain a driver’s license.
  4. The California DREAM Act allows undocumented students in California to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities in the state.
  5. The California Trust Act limits the extent to which state and local law enforcement agencies can cooperate with federal immigration officials enforcing federal law in detaining individuals for deportation.
  6. Racial and Identity Profiling Act AB 953 requires law enforcement agencies to collect data on the race and identity of individuals they stop and search to prevent arrests based on racial profiling.

Limits on State and Local Cooperation With Federal Immigration Enforcement

California has implemented several “sanctuary policies” which restrict the extent to which their local law enforcement agencies can cooperate with Federal immigration authorities.

One such policy is reflected in the California Values Act. This Act prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using their resources to detain individuals for immigration purposes. They must have a judicial warrant to transfer individuals to federal immigration authorities.

The Act further prohibits the sharing of specific information about people in custody with federal immigration authorities.

These Acts are intended to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation and to build trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities. They remain contentious.

Access to State Benefits

Californian law allows undocumented immigrants to access certain state benefits that they may not be eligible for in other states.

For example, under the California Dream Act, undocumented students can access state financial aid for college and pay in-state tuition rates at California public colleges and universities.

Additionally, undocumented immigrants in California can obtain a driver’s license and are eligible for certain types of healthcare.

Legal Assistance and Advocacy

As an immigrant-friendly state, there is a large network of organizations that provide legal assistance, know-your-rights training, and other support to immigrants.

These groups work to protect immigrants’ rights and push for policies that support immigrant communities. Additionally, California has several public defender offices that provide legal representation to immigrants facing deportation.

California’s immigration policies and practices reflect the state’s commitment to protecting immigrant rights and fostering inclusion.

The New Assembly Bill 1776

Recently, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a local bill known as the Californian ID for all, which will allow everyone, even undocumented immigrants, to obtain a Californian ID beginning July 2027.

Additionally, the bill will allow street vendors to obtain local health permits more quickly. It will also improve immigrant students’ access to in-state tuition at public colleges and universities and English as a Second Language courses at community colleges.

How Can an Attorney Help?

Immigration law is complex and constantly changing. For this reason, it is a good idea to seek the assistance of an attorney if you are facing immigration issues. A knowledgeable and experienced immigration lawyer will keep up with the latest changes in the law and assist you with any immigration issues you may encounter.

A locally based immigration attorney has the added benefits of an established network and contacts with long-standing working relationships with immigration officials.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss how else we can help you.

Your Locally Based Immigration Attorney Can Answer Your Questions

If you are facing immigration issues in California, it is essential to work with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.

Our team provides personalized, cost-effective legal services for people who need to come to or stay in the United States. Our team members are compassionate, experienced, and professional, and we are standing by to help you to chase your immigration dreams.

Immigration law is vast. You may have unanswered questions. Feel free to contact a family immigration lawyer to have some of your questions answered.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Illegal Immigrants Be Deported in California?

Immigrants face deportation in California if they violate federal immigration laws or are otherwise deemed deportable by federal authorities.

Although California has laws that limit state and local cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, federal authorities can still conduct their own enforcement actions within the state.

Can an Undocumented Immigrant Work in California?

Although undocumented immigrants can work in California, employers are prohibited from knowingly employing undocumented workers under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). Employees are required to provide documents when they are hired by their employers.

Employers are required to verify the immigration status of all job applicants through the completion of Form I-9. You are also obliged to request appropriate documentation, such as a valid work visa or Social Security card.

In addition to fines and imprisonment, employers can lose their business licenses if they are found guilty of violations. Undocumented employees risk deportation.