California Immigration Law

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California Immigration Law

While many immigration laws come from the federal government, states do have some freedom to grant or restrict rights to immigrants. In California, there are many laws in place that help protect immigrants. This guide will help walk you through some of the pillars of California immigration law.

Law Enforcement Checks

In California, police are not required to check a person’s citizenship status at traffic stops. However, police do have discretion to investigate if they suspect an individual is in the country illegally.

Employment Checks

California employers are subject to Federal laws, which require employers confirm employee work authorization status.

California E-Verify Law

E-Verify is an online system that helps employers determine the eligibility of applicants to work in the United States. While some states require employers to use E-Verify, California prohibits municipalities from passing ordinances that require private employers to use the system. Thus, while private employers may still use E-Verify, it is not mandated.

Driver’s License Requirements

In order to obtain a California driver’s license, applicants must prove their legal presence in the United States with an official ID, such as a birth certificate or social security card. Thus illegal immigrants cannot obtain driver’s licenses in California.

Public Benefits

Federal law prohibits immigrants from accessing public benefits, except for certain emergency services. However, California has made a number of programs available to immigrants, including ones related to healthcare.


In 2011, California passed the DREAM act allowing illegal immigrants access to the same in-state tuition rates offered to California citizens. In addition, the act allows illegal immigrant students to receive financial aid benefits.

Voter ID Laws

New voters in California must provide identification information proving their citizenship, either when they register to vote or at polling locations. Thus, undocumented immigrants may not legally vote in California.

Housing Ordinances

California law does not prohibit landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. Thus, there is no state obligation for landlords to check tenant citizenship status. However, some cities have passed ordinances prohibiting renting to illegal immigrants.\

Should I Contact an Attorney?

If you have a question about immigration law in California, you should contact an attorney to help you with your issue.

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Last Modified: 11-10-2015 03:15 PM PST

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