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California Legislature

Inquiries about immigration status will be barred in most civil liability cases under a new California law

 (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Monday that makes a plaintiff's immigration status irrelevant to the issue of liability in civil cases involving consumer protection, civil rights, labor and housing laws.

Assembly Bill 1690, written by Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), prevents inquiries into a person's immigration status in civil court, unless there is clear and convincing evidence that such a query is necessary to comply with federal immigration law. 

The legislation, which was backed by the Consumer Attorneys of California, immigration rights groups and several public policy centers, was meant to clarify current state law, which states that all civil protections, rights and remedies are available under state law, except if banned by federal law.

The new bill prohibits legal inquiry into a person's immigration status if they bring forth a claim to enforce state labor, employment, civil rights or housing laws.

Supporters pointed to federal court decisions that have found that allowing legal discovery into immigration status would deter plaintiffs from pursuing claims with a likelihood to win in court. It had no noted opposition and largely sailed through the Assembly and Senate chambers.

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