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California Legislature

After 'a dark day,' immigrant rights advocates rally in Sacramento to fight for workplace protections from ICE raids

Members of SEIU rally in support of a bill to protect workers without legal residency in the country. (Jazmine Ulloa/Los Angeles Times)
Members of SEIU rally in support of a bill to protect workers without legal residency in the country. (Jazmine Ulloa/Los Angeles Times)

Immigrant rights advocates shared stories Wednesday of workers left in the lurch after President Trump's decision to rescind a program that offered temporary immigration relief for thousands of people brought into the country illegally as children.

But members of the Service Employees International Union and allied employers vowed to continue their fight to protect immigrant workers without legal residency.

Dozens gathered in Sacramento in support of a state bill that would prohibit employers from allowing federal immigration officials to enter non-public areas of a work site without a warrant. The bill also would require employers to notify their workers when officials intend to review employee eligibility forms or other records.

Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), who introduced the legislation, said it had gained new urgency after "a dark day" in which U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions announced the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

Chiu said about 97% of DACA recipients are students or workers, statistics reflected in a recent survey by the Center for American Progress. One in 10 California workers who pick crops, prepare meals or care for children and elders do not have legal immigration status, according to SEIU. 

AB 450 has gained the support of more than 20 labor groups and employer associations. But it is facing heavy opposition from more than 50 business associations and agriculture groups across California that argue it requires employers to fully understand federal law, and puts employers in a bind. 

"We wouldn't be here talking about this bill, AB 450, if Donald Trump had not declared war on workers, if he had not declared on immigrants," Chiu said, adding that the president "has threatened to hire 10,000 new ICE agents to fan across America, into California, into workplaces to deport our family members and critical workers to our economy."

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