A federal district court judge stayed the enforcement of a controversial California law ordering employers not to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
Enacted last year, the AB 450 law threatened private employers with fines of up to $10,000 if they granted federal immigration authorities access to a workplace or to employee records in the absence of a warrant issued by a court or a subpoena. (AA, 10-15-17, P. 3)
Effective Jan. 1 of this year, any employer violating this law can receive a $2,000 to $5,000 civil penalty for the first violation, and $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent violation.
The law also requires employers to provide workers with written reports following certain immigration enforcement actions.
The legislation had been vigorously opposed by employer groups in the state but was just one of a suite of bills passed by the legislature intending to cement California’s status as a sanctuary state.
The district court judge agreed with the U.S. Department of Justice in finding that AB 450 discriminates against private employers who cooperate with the federal government.
The judge said that “these fines inflict a burden on those employers who acquiesce in a federal investigation but not on those who do not.”
The court also struck down the part of the law limiting an employer’s ability to re-verify an employee’s employment eligibility unless otherwise required by federal law on the ground that it “frustrates the system of accountability that Congress designed.”
The only portion of the law left standing by the court is the employer obligation to warn employees in writing of an imminent inspection of I-9 forms by federal immigration authorities.
Given the state government’s strong stance, the district court decision is likely to be appealed.