California Gov. Jerry Brown signed several bills Monday changing immigration policy in the state. One of the three bills Brown signed removed the word "alien" from the state's labor code, an attempt to remove what some view as an offensive descriptor for people who aren't fully naturalized citizens.
Aside from the "alien" bill, Brown signed legislation that allows high school students who are legal permanent residents to sign up to work at polling sites to help Spanish speaking voters on election days. Brown also signed a bill that bans the consideration of a child's immigration status during civil liability cases.
"Alien is now commonly considered a derogatory term for a foreign-born person and has very negative connotations,” state Sen. Tony Mendoza, the Democrat who sponsored the bill, told the Los Angeles Times. “The word 'alien,' and any law prescribing an order for the issuance of employment to 'aliens,' has no place in the laws of our state and more importantly, should never be the basis for any employment hiring.”
The bills are the latest in a push for expanded immigration rights in the state. Those efforts have been gaining steam, including a push to bypass federal law and give work permits to undocumented immigrants to work on farms, expand health care coverage for undocumented children in the state and give residency permits to undocumented immigrants in California.
The local push to expand immigrant rights in California comes as the country as a whole grapples with how to address what is seen as a growing immigration problem. The subject has made its way to the presidential campaign trail, and candidates like real estate mogul Donald Trump have pushed the subject into a national spotlight. Following the recent shooting of a woman in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant known to the authorities, Trump used the occasion to rip so-called sanctuary cities. San Francisco, and many other cities throughout the country, adopt local policies that expand the rights of undocumented immigrants in defiance of federal immigration law.