In Grutter v. University of Michigan and Gratz v. University of Michigan, the California Office of the Attorney General joined 20 other state attorneys general in an amicus brief that urged the United States Supreme Court to hold that the goal of achieving a diverse student body is a compelling state interest that justifies consideration of the race of applicants as one of many factors in determining university admissions. The brief further urged the court to uphold the constitutionality of the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies used for its undergraduate and law school programs. On June 23, 2003, the Court held that achieving a diverse student body is a compelling state interest that justifies the use of race as one of many factors in university admissions policies. The Court upheld the constitutionality of the University of Michigan's law school admissions policy, but found that the undergraduate admissions policy's consideration of race was not sufficiently narrowly drawn. As such, that policy was held to violate the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution.
Civil Rights in Education. In May 2000, the Attorney General entered into a written settlement that will require a school district in northern California to make significant changes to its policies and procedures that govern student discipline. The settlement followed an investigation into allegations that a high school within the district had discriminated against a gifted African American student-athlete when it prohibited him from participating on the high school's football team during his senior year. The investigation concluded that the district may have discriminated against the student because of his race, and that the student's due process rights and his right to privacy had been violated by the high school during the course of the disciplinary process.
Office of Immigrant Assistance: Californians can call toll-free 888-567-0557.
Providing education and outreach information to immigrant communities, the Office of Immigrant Assistance was launched within the Civil Right Enforcement Section in March 2001 by the Office of the Attorney General. The goal is to help immigrant communities better understand state laws, and to break down barriers that make immigrants reluctant to report both criminal and civil law violations to law enforcement agencies. To date, the Office of Immigrant Assistance has published the brochure "Immigration Services: Protecting Your Consumer Rights" in English, Spanish, Armenian, Hmong, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean, as well as the brochure "Preventing Hate Crime: What We Can Do!" in English, Spanish, Armenian, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Punjabi and Hindi.>
Immigration Consultants. Targeting illegal immigration consulting services, the Attorney General has moved to obtain compliance or shut down businesses that mislead and victimize consumers. Since 2001, enforcement action has been brought against at least a dozen businesses and more than 24 immigration consultants in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley. The courts have ordered over $2 million in penalties and restitution for victims. More than 5,500 consumers who entered into contracts with immigration consulting companies have been given the opportunity to retrieve their client files. The Attorney General also sponsored legislation that took effect in January 2003 that makes it clear the attorney general, district attorney or city attorney may seek civil penalties of up to $100,000 per violation and injunctive relief against immigration consultants who violate state law.
In recent developments, the Los Angeles Superior Court on March 1, 2004, ordered $479,500 in civil penalties against Immigration Solution Center, Marina Balladares and Balladares &Associate, Inc. for engaging in false and misleading advertising, the unlicensed practice of law and violating state law regulating immigration consultants. In September 2003, two attorneys and four non-attorneys in the Immigration Solution Center case agreed to pay $169,000 in civil penalties, attorney's fees, costs and restitution to settle the complaint filed by the Attorney General's Office. Also in September 2003, the Attorney General's Office settled lawsuits against 13 individuals and another large-volume immigration consulting firm, Immigration World Wide Services, for more than $20,000 in civil penalties, costs and restitution for victims who filed complaints with the Attorney General's Office of Immigrant Assistance. The court also ordered the company to shut down under strict supervision by the Attorney General's Office.
On February 26, 2004, the Attorney General obtained $1.85 million in civil fines against a husband and wife team that defrauded hundreds of Chinese immigrants who paid as much as $8,000 for immigration and legal assistance that Asian Pacific Legal Services was not authorized to provide. The Los Angeles Superior Court ordered full restitution for the victims who testified in the seven-day trial and banned the couple from providing unlawful immigration consulting services in the future.
On February 13, 2004, the Fresno Superior Court entered a default judgment against Oficinas Marquez and its owner Carlos Marquez, ordering payment of civil penalties of $100,000 and attorneys fees and costs for violating state law that requires a $50,000 bond to be filed with the state. The bonds are required to help protect consumers. In November 2003, the Madera Superior Court ordered Centro Latino and its owners to cease operating as immigration consultants without the bonds required by the state.
On January 27, 2004, the Attorney General's Office filed complaints in Sacramento;County against three companies - Gateway Express, Manning&Suftin and Trust International - alleged to be in violation of state requirements for immigration consultants.