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California governor signs comprehensive immigration legislation into law

California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] signed into law a collection of legislation centered on immigration [press release] on Saturday. AB 4, 35 and 1159 [materials] create limitations, restrictions, and obligations for those involved in immigration services and compliance intended to limit detention of undocumented immigrants and increase accessibility to applications for citizenship. AB 1024 allows applicants who are undocumented immigrants to be admitted to the California Bar as attorneys at law. SB 141 and 150 [materials] exempts undocumented immigrants from certain tuition requirements for California community colleges and universities. SB 666 provides for suspension or revocation of an employer's business license if he is found to have retaliated against employees on the basis of citizenship or immigration status, and AB 524 [materials] establishes that a threat to report the immigration status or suspected immigration status of an individual or the individual's family may induce fear sufficient to constitute extortion.

California has been a trailblazer in immigration [JURIST backgrounder] reform. Earlier this week Brown signed a bill allowing immigrants who are in the country illegally to obtain driver's licenses [JURIST report] in California. In July 2012, the California Senate approved a bill [JURIST report] to prevent local police officers from turning over a detained individual to federal immigration authorities unless the detainee had been convicted of a serious or violent felony. However, Brown vetoed the bill [PDF] the following September, stating that the bill as written omitted too many serious crimes, such as offenses involving child abuse, drug trafficking and gang involvement. In October 2011 Brown signed into law [JURIST report] the California Dream Act, which expanded financial aid to undocumented immigrant students in the state. In 2010 the California Supreme Court ruled that undocumented immigrants are eligible to receive [JURIST report] in-state tuition benefits at California's public colleges and universities.

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