Capitol Alert

Citizens only for California boards and commissions, Jerry Brown says in veto

Undocumented immigrants and other non-citizens will not be allowed to serve on state and local boards and commissions, despite recent efforts to further integrate those living in California illegally into civic life.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday vetoed Senate Bill 174, which would have authorized the appointment of any California resident over the age of 18 to a civil office, regardless of immigration or citizenship status.

“I believe existing law — which requires citizenship for these forms of public service — is the better path,” Brown wrote in his veto message.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, the Bell Gardens Democrat who introduced SB 174, said the citizenship requirement for state posts originated with anti-Chinese immigrant discrimination in the 19th century and eliminating it would allow the state to better serve its diverse communities.

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Earlier in the year, the state Senate appointed Lizbeth Mateo, a 33-year-old attorney and immigrant rights activist who came to the United States from Mexico illegally with her family as a teenager, to an advisory committee that aims to increase college access for low-income and minority students.

Lara said the veto is short-sighted. “If people have earned the opportunity to serve through their experience and talents, we should invite them to the table,” the statement said. “There was a time when Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, African Americans, and Catholics were prevented from serving, and California cleared away those barriers. I predict that this barrier will eventually fall.”

Brown on Thursday also vetoed Senate Bill 349, which would have prohibited the civil arrest, inside a courthouse, of someone attending a court proceeding or with legal business before the court.

The measure, also from Lara, was an attempt to block U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents from targeting immigrants for arrest at California courthouses.

“I support the underlying intent of this measure, but I am concerned that it may have unintended consequences,” Brown wrote in his veto message. He referenced the “sanctuary state” law, passed last year, which tasked the California attorney general with developing guidelines for limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities at courthouses and other public facilities.

“I believe the prudent path is to allow for that guidance to be released before enacting new laws in this area,” Brown wrote.

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