California Illegal Immigrants: Answering Your Questions

By September 3, 2020Immigration Law Blog
California Illegal Immigrants

Today we’re going to be answering questions that pertain to California illegal immigrants to give you the answers that you need to know…

California Illegal Immigrants: Answering Your Questions

Q: Are sanctuary policies for undocumented immigrants the same statewide?

A: No. Sanctuary policies for illegal immigrants vary from county to county. The Public Policy Institute of California says:

Some California city and county leaders have stated that they will provide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants—this refers to limiting local assistance to federal immigration enforcement. However, no sanctuary policy can universally prevent deportations. Further, county jails provide the FBI with fingerprints from all bookings, which the FBI then sends to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Even if individual cities have a sanctuary policy, county law enforcement supersedes city policies if undocumented immigrants are placed in county jails.

Q: As an Illegal Immigrant Am I Entitled to a Public Defender If I Get into Trouble?

A: YES! Even as an undocumented immigrant in California you are eligible for a public defender to represent you if you should need one. You should also tell your public defender about your current immigration status so that they can provide you with the proper representation in your case. And yes, even when your lawyer is assigned to you by the State, you are still entitled to attorney-client privilege.

Q: Can My Public Defender Drop Me as a Client Because of My Current Immigration Status?

A: NO! At no time may your public defender drop you as a client simply due to your immigration status.

Q: Can I get a driver’s license in California if I’m an undocumented immigrant?

A: In California, illegal immigrants may obtain what is called an AB60 drivers license. This driver’s license only permits you to drive and does not offer any type of legal status in the U.S. The main reason that California issues driver licenses to undocumented immigrants is to maintain safe roads and driving conditions by ensuring that drivers have the education needed to operate their vehicle properly.

In order to obtain an AB60 drivers license, you must meet specific requirements including:

  • be able to prove your identity
  • be a resident of California, and
  • swear in an affidavit (written statement) that you are ineligible for an SSN and unable to submit satisfactory proof that your presence in the U.S. is authorized by federal law. This affidavit will not be treated as a public record.

Q: Should I Tell My Attorney That I’m an Undocumented Immigrant?

A: YES! Your attorney is YOUR attorney and they are bound to provide you with the best representation possible. They are also bound to keep your discussions privileged which means that they cannot share them with anyone without your consent. While you may think that your immigration status is inconsequential when it comes to your current predicament, but your attorney can only fight for you 100% if they have 100% of the knowledge that they need INCLUDING your immigration status.

Q: Can My Attorney Turn Me In For Being an Illegal Immigrant?

A: No. Under, attorney-client privilege, your attorney may not report you to ICE for being an illegal immigrant. Your attorney’s job is to protect your rights and keep you out of jail and your conversations with them are considered privileged information. At no time can your attorney disclose the content of your discussions together to a third party without your consent to do so.

Q: As an Undocumented Worker in California Can I Claim Unemployment Insurance?

A: In California, illegal immigrants are not eligible for unemployment however, in the aftermath of COVID-19, California is considering extending unemployment benefits to illegal immigrants who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: If I’m an undocumented immigrant can I still sue someone in court for discrimination?

A: Yes. As an undocumented immigrant, you have the right to file lawsuits in federal court in the U.S. Illegal immigrants may also sue in state court in some states – California is one of those states. In fact, since a 2016 law was passed, courts aren’t allowed to ask about a plaintiff’s immigration status at all.

It’s also worth noting that you are also eligible for damages in a lawsuit if you win your suit EVEN if you are an undocumented immigrant.

Q: Can My Boss Use My Illegal Immigration Status As a Way to Manipulate Me?

A: NO! In the state of California, any professional or business who uses someone’s immigration status to pressure them into anything can face penalties under the law. In fact, it’s actually illegal to just threaten someone with their immigration status as a way to get what you want from them. This is a crime punishable by 2 to 4 years in prison!

The Rights of Illegal Immigrants

Although there are some exceptions to the rule, undocumented workers in California are afforded all of the same state and federal given rights that a legal resident employee enjoys.

Do You Have Questions Pertaining to California Illegal Immigrants?

If you have questions about immigration in California, Nelson and Associates can help! Just give us a call today at 626-683-3451 and set up a consultation at a time that’s convenient for you!