New rights for California's undocumented immigrants

Several laws signed by California Governor Jerry Brown this autumn will improve life in the state for undocumented immigrants, recognizing their civil rights and improving their prospects for education and employment.One of these, AB 131, builds on AB 130, signed this summer. These two laws, collectively known as the “California Dream Act,” enable eligible undocumented students at California colleges and universities to receive private or state-funded financial aid as of January 1, 2013.The Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act, signed by the governor, will make it easier for California’s approximately 400,000 farmworkers to join unions and negotiate for fair labor rights. This was a victory for campaigners, who saw three previous versions of the law vetoed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.The governor also signed AB 1236, which prevents local governments from making mandatory the federal E-Verify system for checking employee citizenship. This contrasts with the policies of states such as Arizona, where E-Verify is mandatory.Jen Horton, "New Rights for California's Undocumented," YES! Magazine, Winter 2012.

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