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Immigration to the United States has been a major source of the increased population growth and cultural changes in its history. The social, economic, and political aspects of immigration have resulted to controversy about economic benefits, ethnicity, availability of jobs for the non-immigrants, impact on the social mobility, voting behaviors, and crimes. Hostility towards these different and foreign immigrants rose in the United States causing an increase in legislation to limit immigration. The current immigrants settle mainly in California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas. This paper examines some important issues connected to the California State Laws. It explores the rules and legislation related to the individuals’ immigration status. The information below relates to the California rules concerning immigration checks by the law enforcement, employers, educational institutions, the presence of E-Verify requirements, and the reasons behind California’s motivation to these developments.
2. Literature Review
2.1 Law Enforcement and Immigration in California
California law encourages police to verify the immigration status of any suspect, who they believe is in the country illegally. The officers are demanded to cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service in cases of any person arrested, if he or she is suspected of being in the United States through violation of federal immigration laws. These verification processes include the officers questioning his or her date of birth and the place of birth, and on his or her way of entry to the United States (Camarota). The officers are also to demand the documentation indicating the individual’s legal status. The police officers are required to check immigrants’ status even on minor offences like jaywalking.
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California, being a border state, has the largest number of immigrants, mostly illegal; hence, more rebel than the neighbor states. There is a proposed bill in the California legislature meant to block the deportation of detainees unless on serious felony crime, which is the case according to the local laws (Lee).
Deportation creates fear to immigrants; hence, tries to abide with the law. This fear, however, is not justified in the case, where there is an absence of incentives to keep the deported out of the state (Matt). The chances are that once deported, they can have their way back to the country and there being no stiffer penalties for the repeat offenders, the offender can go back to committing the same crime that caused his or her deportation.
2.2 Employment Checks
Under the federal law, employers are required to verify potential employees’ authorization to work in the United States. In California, an employer is certain to seek information about the new job applicant. This has been because of the employers encountering the news of violence at work places, embezzlement, falsified credentials, and lawsuits from wrong hiring decisions. Currently, California law provides an access to the employees for the information that the employer sees (Ahearn).
Through the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) guide, an employee has a right to get a copy of the background check that the employer uses and find out if there is any inaccurate or incomplete information. The employer or an outside company can prepare the report. When information is from an outside company, the FCRA requires an employer to give notice to the employee of such requirement and obtain the employee’s permission on such. If the employer decides to terminate an existing employee or to not hire the new one based on the report obtained, he or she should in that case give a pre-adverse action notice together with a copy of the backgrond report prior to taking any of the above actions. A second notice after an adverse action should be provided to give the employee a chance to dispute any inaccurate or incomplete information (Privacy Rights Clearing House).
In California, an employee should receive a notice before an outside screening company called an ICR agency conducts a background check. The notice states the purpose of the report, gives the details of the screening company, includes a summary of an employee’s rights to see the report, and includes a box for the employee to check whether he or she wants a copy of the report. If the employer conducts the check personally, the job application form should include a box indicating that the employee wants a copy of the public records obtained in the investigation. According to the California Civil Code 1786 of January 2012, an employer should also give the employee the internet website address or telephone number of the screening company (Ahearn, 2011). Screening companies are also answerable for any harm caused from the unauthorized access to an employee’s information, which occurs outside the United States.
The FCRA has exceptions regarding what information should be reported. These exceptions include bankruptcy after ten years, civil suits and arrest records after seven years, paid tax liens after seven years, accounts for collection after seven years, and any negative information after seven years with the exception of criminal convictions. These, however, do not apply for jobs that have an annual pay of $75,000 or more.
2.3 California E-Verify Law
E-Verify is an internet-based system operated by the United States and is currently free to employers in all states. The E-Verify provides an automated link to the federal databases for employers to determine eligibility of employees (Feere, 2011).
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Activists against illegal immigration have long pushed Californian cities to adopt E-Verify in their businesses, which is to help in verifying the employees eligible for the jobs in the United States. Those businesses that would not adopt this were to face fines or their business licenses were to be revoked. These efforts have, however, been wiped out by California Gov. Jerry Brown, who signed into the law an act that prohibited the states, cities, and counties from authorizing company employers to use E-Verify. Before the signing of the prohibition bill, many California municipalities and cities used E-Verify for its employees. They are now to change and to comply with the new state laws (National Conference of State Legislature).
Many, who thought it a way to reduce unemployment of the million affected Californians and improve their income, as well as getting rid of the illegal population, opposed the step of the Governor. They further cited that the bill was against the federal law, which required all businesses to use E-Verify in their recruitments.
2.4 Driver’s License/ ID Requirements
The California Safe and Responsible Driver is a proposed bill that gives driver’s licenses to the illegal immigrants, who show a proof of tax payment or insurance. A new California law for 2013 is present, and it grants state driver’s licenses to the illegal immigrants, who arrived in the city as children. The nonimmigrants driver license is given to the applicants, who successfully meet the requirements on the application form (Bunch). The license is temporary and serves the term that the driver is authorized to work in the United States. The legislation also allows individuals, who are not legally present in the U.S, to be eligible for application of a driver’s license in California.
It has been hard to vote, especially for the immigrants in California. The state requires voters to have ID requirements, but with the driver’s license or passport, men and women are now able to exercise their voting rights (Bunch, 2013).
2.5 Education for Immigrants
California is a home to the entertainment and high technology industries; it has the nation’s largest tourism industries and possesses the most productive agricultural land in the country. However, immigration for the last four decades has increased in the region, giving rise to a large unskilled population, as compared to the rest of the country. The state now suffers from lack of the health insurances and a skewed income distribution (Russel, 2011). Without immigrants, California’s labor force that has completed high school is above the national average.
There are large numbers of California adults with very little education, who strain the social services for the state, making it challenging to generate enough tax revenue that can cover the demands resulting from the large unskilled population (Lucas, 2012).
California shows no signs of closing the educational gap with other states, since its immigrants are continuously adding up the number of the unskilled workers in the state. The 2007 immigrants to California had not completed high school according to the survey (Russel). With their increase and the low rate of high school completion among the young adults entering the labor force, California will continue being one of the least educated states in the country.
However, the state is currently struggling to educate the children through the K-12 education system that spends approximately $7.7 billion annually to support the illegal alien children, who constitute approximately 15 percent of the students. Around $1.4 billion from taxpayers is been directed to providing health care to the illegal aliens’ families annually.
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2.6 Reasons behind California’s Motivation to the Developments
The improvement of the law enforcement by the California police officers has been due to the increased crime rates in the region (Camarota, 2010). Many immigrants are unskilled; hence, not eligible to work in the industries and will, therefore, turn to crime as a means of income. The parents are only capable of getting low pay jobs, which forces them to work even overtime; hence, neglecting the children. These children lack guidance and eventually engage into deviant behaviors (Russell).
The employers have been encountering the news of violence at work places, embezzlement, falsified credentials, and lawsuits from the wrong hiring decisions that they make. In their efforts to curb this, the employers turned to the strict measures of verifying employees personally or through some screening companies in order to employ individuals who are of good conduct (Ahearn). The frequent checks of existing employees ensure that their companies are in safe hands.
California has for long lagged behind on education increasing the number of unskilled labor in their companies. This has raised the need to educate the children through donations and pass the in-state tuition to the undocumented students (Lucas, 2011). This law allows the students, who have been to the state high school for a number of years, completed a high school diploma sign an affidavit affirming their intent to file for legal residency.
California has made an effort to develop its immigration laws in order to cater for the safety of the employers from untrusted employees through the employment checks. It has gone further to allow giving a driver’s license to the individuals, who prove to pay taxes though being illegal immigrants. California has also put effort in providing education to the immigrant children through donations and provided health services to the illegal immigrants’ family from the taxpayers. It has also provided the Dream Act to college students, which has helped in opening channels for the students in the state.
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