What Does It Mean to Be a Sanctuary State?

How California Becoming a Sanctuary State Affects Immigration Rights

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last year that limited cooperation between local officials and federal immigration officers. Known also as the sanctuary state bill, Brown’s decision is not a set definition of what makes a place a “sanctuary” for immigrants and limits the deportation of illegally residing residents. In addition, this will affect how schools, courthouses and hospitals are treated as safe zones to restrict the local police from detaining people to assist immigration officers. The law makes such actions difficult to do, but the bill does not stop federal agents from coming to California and deporting people.

What Are My Rights as an Immigrant in California?

If you are an immigrant and live in California, there are a few rights you’ll want to know about regarding your residency in the state. Since California is a sanctuary state, state and local law enforcement are not allowed to:

  • Detain an individual for immigration officers unless he or she has a felony or warrant
  • Transfer undocumented individuals to federal custody. The exception to this would be if the individual is a registered sex offender or if they’ve been convicted of a crime listed in California’s Trust Act within the last 15 years.
  • Ask about a person’s immigration status
  • Share information with immigration officers that isn’t available to the general public

Undocumented immigrants, however, may have trouble accessing certain benefits and services. They may also not have certain rights due to their immigration status. While documented immigrants have access to public benefits like welfare, undocumented immigrants will not be able to enjoy these same benefits. Undocumented immigrants do have access to emergency services, health care, and housing. Getting a driver’s license will be difficult for undocumented people, since proof of legal residency in the US is required to obtain a California license. The same goes for voting in state or federal elections as well.

If you’re unsure about these new sanctuary state laws that were put in place, contact the attorneys at Karlin and Karlin, Attorneys at Law. We have years of experience navigating immigration law and can offer legal guidance regarding your immigration rights.

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