Bill to Provide New Protections Against Worksite Raids Passes Labor Committee

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Immigrant Worker Protection Act - AB 450 - is CA’s latest challenge to Trump deportation force and goes further than any state to put proactive worker protections into law

Sacramento – The Immigrant Worker Protection Act, a bill authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) that affirmatively protects workers from immigration enforcement through disruptive workplace raids, today passed its first policy committee. AB 450 comes as arrests of immigrants with no criminal record have more than doubled in the first few months of 2017, and many advocates for immigrants fear that worksite raids are next.

“In an environment of division and fear, California must continue to defend its workers, to guard its values, and to ensure that its laws protect all of our residents,” said Assemblymember Chiu, a son of immigrants and a former civil rights attorney.  “AB 450 declares California’s determination to protect our economy and the people who are working hard to contribute to our communities and raise their families in dignity. At the same time, the bill offers employers clarity about what to do when ICE agents target their places of business with indiscriminate raids.”  

California has not had a good history with worksite raids. Past raids occurred under the auspices of narrow individual arrest warrants that ICE used to question and detain every single worker at a worksite, including U.S. citizens and workers lawfully present - violating their basic constitutional rights.

"Immigrant workers are rising up to combat the culture of fear and intimidation that the Trump Administration is trying to create,” said David Huerta, SEIU USWW President. “AB 450 is a crucial part of our plan to protect the rights of immigrant workers and stand up for California's values of justice, openness, and inclusion."

"Immigrant workers shouldn't have to live in fear on the job," said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. "SB 450 builds on California's proud tradition of protecting all workers. We look forward to its continued progress in the legislature."

Specific provisions of AB 450 include:

  • Protecting workers from being wrongfully detained in their workplace by requiring employers to ask for a judicial warrant before granting ICE access to a worksite.
  • Preventing employers from sharing confidential employee information, such as a social security number, without a subpoena.
  • Requiring employers to notify the Labor Commissioner and employee representative of a worksite raid. Employers must also notify the Labor Commissioner, employees, and employee representatives of an I-9 audit.
  • Preventing employers from retaliating against employees who report labor claims by enabling workers crucial to a labor claim investigation to receive certification from the Labor Commissioner. This certification would both protect the worker and aid in successfully adjudicating labor violations.

Nationwide, there are reports of ICE agents descending on worksites for mass roundups of immigrants.  The Trump administration has called for hiring 10,000 more ICE agents to expedite deportations. In California, workers have reported employers threatening to call immigration authorities when workers attempt to exercise their rights to minimum wages, meal breaks, or organizing activity that are protected by California law regardless of status.

As the Los Angeles Times has reported, ICE raids and Trump’s threats of mass deportation have sparked fear among employers as well as immigrant communities. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, over 2.6 million undocumented immigrants reside in California. Undocumented workers make up 45 percent of California’s agricultural workforce and 21 percent of construction. In fact, almost 1 in every 10 workers in California is undocumented.

The Immigrant Worker Protection Act is sponsored by SEIU California and the California Labor Federation and co-authored by State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles).

AB 450 now heads to the Assembly Judiciary Committee for a hearing on April 25.

Assemblymember David Chiu (D – San Francisco) is the Chair of the Housing & Community Development Committee of the California State Assembly. He represents the 17th Assembly District, which encompasses eastern San Francisco.