SACRAMENTO — Undocumented immigrants and other non-citizens will be allowed to serve on state boards and commissions after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a package of bills Saturday intended to integrate immigrants further into society.
SB225 by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, expands eligibility for state appointments to any California resident over the age of 18.
In a signing message, Newsom said applicants deserved to be considered on their merits, rather than their immigration status.
“Building a more representative government requires an assessment of barriers that prevent talented and qualified Californians from consideration for public service,” he said. “California doesn’t succeed in spite of our diversity — our state succeeds because of it.”
The issue rose to public attention last year, after the state Senate appointed a woman who had come to the United States from Mexico illegally as a teenager to an advisory committee on college access for low-income and minority students.
A few months later, then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar measure, writing that he believed “existing law — which requires citizenship for these forms of public service — is the better path.”
Newsom signed another bill Saturday prohibiting civil arrests inside a courthouse of anyone who is there for a court proceeding or other legal business. The law does not apply to criminal arrests.
AB668 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, aims to prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from carrying out operations at California courthouses. Advocates have raised concerns that ICE arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses has had a chilling effect, discouraging immigrants from testifying or appearing in court.
“The courts have an institutional responsibility to ensure all Californians have safe and orderly access to justice,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “When people don’t feel safe showing up to court to act as a witness, pay a fine, or file papers because they may be subjected to civil arrest — the system is broken.”
Brown also vetoed a prior version of the bill last year, instead encouraging the state attorney general to draft policies for limiting immigration enforcement at courthouses and other public facilities.
“I support the underlying intent of this measure, but I am concerned that it may have unintended consequences,” Brown wrote in his veto message.