Governor signs 8 laws granting rights to immigrants

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SAN DIEGO — The 2.5 million immigrants living illegally in California now have legal rights after Gov. Jerry Brown signed eight bills extending rights to noncitizens.

“While Washington waffles on immigration, California’s forging ahead…I’m not waiting,” said Brown.

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 6.59.42 PMThe new laws allow legal immigrants to get driver’s licenses, working at polling places and practicing law – some also protect the undocumented immigrants.

Police officers are now prohibited by law to assist in deportations of immigrants with minor offenses.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) authored two of the measures passed and said the Brown’s unprecedented actions were a response to the stalemate in Washington.

“Hopefully other states will follow our lead,” said Gonzalez.

Not all immigrant advocates support the new laws, including immigration attorney Brian Johnson.  He’s concerned the new driver licenses law will show the immigrant’s illegal status and cause issues.

“What’s [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] policy going to be at checkpoints?” said Johnson.

Johnson also stressed some of the new state laws could come into conflict with federal rules on immigration.

None of the new laws help immigrants legalize their status – that issue will be determined if the federal government passes immigration reform.

The governor vetoed a bill that would have made California the first state to allow legal immigrants to serve on jury.

“This bill would permit lawful permanent residents who are not citizens to serve on a jury. I don’t think that’s right,” Brown said.

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