SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) --  California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill this month designed to protect immigrants from federal raids at work sites by immigration authorities.

The Immigrant Worker Protection Act (AB 450), which will go into effect on Jan. 1, will impose restrictions on California employers when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents show up at a workplace.

The law will now prohibit employers from voluntarily consenting to ICE access to a workplace without a judicial warrant. The law will prescribe penalties to employers of $2,000 to $5,000 for a first violation and between $5,000 and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.

In addition, AB 450 will require employers to provide workers with notice of immigration enforcement inspections of I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms or other employment records within 72 hours of receiving a federal notice of inspection. As in the first restriction, an employer that violates this requirement is subject to a $2,000-to-$5,000 penalty for a first violation and $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent violation.

California is the first state to pass a law to make it illegal for employers to provide voluntary assistance to ICE agents at workplaces.

AB 450 was introduced by California Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco). The bill was jointly sponsored by the California Labor Federation and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

“The sponsors stated that the bill was brought in response to anticipated actions of the Trump administration on immigration enforcement, particularly increased workplace enforcement activity,” Benjamin M. Ebbink, an attorney with Fisher & Phillips in Sacramento, told Legal Newsline.

The new immigration law applies to all employers, according to Ebbink. “However, it may be of particular interest to certain industries that may have a higher percentage of immigrant workers or undocumented workers,” he said.

Employers will need to pay close attention to the employee notification provisions of the bill, Ebbink said.

“Several of the provisions of the bill were moved from the Labor Code to the Government Code, and language was added to specify that enforcement of the penalties is under the exclusive authority of the labor commissioner or the attorney general," he said. 

"This alleviated some employer concerns that there would be private civil lawsuit enforcement for violations under the Private Attorneys General Act.”

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