Capitol Alert

Immigrant farmworkers in danger of being deported, California lawmaker says

Javier Herrera picks lemons in the orchards of Santa Paula, Calif., which is situated in the agriculturally rich Santa Clara River Valley in Ventura County.
Javier Herrera picks lemons in the orchards of Santa Paula, Calif., which is situated in the agriculturally rich Santa Clara River Valley in Ventura County. TNS

A day after the Trump administration announced it would end an Obama-era program shielding “Dreamers” from deportation, Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, is pressuring state lawmakers to help immigrant laborers he says also face “increasing danger.”

Assembly Bill 450, the “Immigrant Worker Protection Act,” would bar immigration officials from conducting workplace raids without a warrant and prevent employers from disclosing employees’ privacy information, such as a social security number or their immigration status, without an order from the courts.

“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,” Chiu said in a statement last week. “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.”

Chiu pointed to the immigration crackdown by Immigration and Customs Enforcement since President Donald Trump took office, and voiced concerns that “widely anticipated” workplace raids are next.

A rally is set for 11 a.m. at the state Capitol to draw attention to Chiu’s bill. He will be among the speakers, along with immigrant agricultural workers. Others include Alma Hernandez, executive director of the Service Employees International Union in California; Daniel Weiser of Weiser Family Farms, which grows fruit and vegetables in the Central Valley; and Amelia Morán Ceja, president of Ceja Vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties.

Workers are expected to deliver produce to lawmakers and encourage them to support the legislation.

WORTH REPEATING: “He’s probably the most famous sheriff in the country... we just felt it was appropriate to honor him.” –Fred Vanderhoof, chair of the Fresno County Republican Party, on pardoned Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio headlining an event for the party.

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REPUBLICANS ON DACA: The Courage Campaign, a left-leaning activist group, has called on California Republicans to denounce Trump for his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, with its executive director Eddie Kurtz saying, “The question now for California Republican members of the House is: Do you stand with Trump and his outrageous, cruel and bigoted actions, or do you stand with the people of California, who believe that dreamers and all immigrants are an important part of our society and economy?”

Some Republicans in Congress and the state Legislature voiced support for the program, while others remained largely silent Tuesday.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure those who were brought here, through no fault of their own, are not unjustly punished,” said Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, on Twitter.

The California Republican Party took no public stance, but outgoing Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes said, “America should not be in the business of deporting children who came to this country through no fault of their own.”

Congressional Democrats are scheduled to hold a morning press conference in Washington, D.C. urging Republicans to protect the program and bring the DREAM Act for a vote on the floor of the House and U.S. Senate. Scheduled to speak are Sen. Kamala Harris and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, among others.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Gov. Jerry Brown is in Russia for the Eastern Economic Forum this week. He is expected to speak about climate change and elevating to a global priority efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

BIG PHARMA: State lawmakers are expected to tout support for Senate Bill 17 from state Sen. Ed Hernandez, which seeks to increase transparency in drug pricing, at an event in Room 317 of the Capitol beginning at 10:30 a.m. Hernandez will be joined by Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, Chiu, activist Tom Steyer, Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation and others.

His proposed bill would require drug companies to notify pharmaceutical purchasers at least 90 days before raising the price of medications.

BAN THE BOX: Supporters of a bill to “ban the box” asking job applicants to disclose their criminal histories on employment applications are hosting a rally on the north steps of the Capitol beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Assembly Bill 1008 from Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, would eliminate the felony conviction box from job applications.