Office of Immigrant Assistance and Immigrant Rights

The Attorney General's Office of Immigrant Assistance provides outreach and education to inform immigrant communities about state laws, and to break down barriers that make immigrants reluctant to report both criminal and civil law violations to law enforcement agencies including the California Department of Justice. The Office of Immigrant Assistance has published a variety of advisories and brochures, including "Immigration Services Fraud: Know Your Rights" in English, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese, and Vietnamese, as well as the brochure "Preventing Hate Crime: What We Can Do!" in English, Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Additional Attorney General initiatives focused on immigrant rights include:

U-Visa Law Enforcement Bulletin. On October 28, 2015, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris issued an information bulletin to California law enforcement agencies detailing new responsibilities under state law to assist immigrant crime victims in applying for U visas, a form of immigration relief specifically set aside for victims of crime who lack authorized immigration status. The new law (Penal Code Section 679.10) mandates that certain state and local law enforcement agencies and other specified officials complete U visa certifications, upon request, for immigrant crime victims who have been helpful, are being helpful, or are likely to be helpful in the detection, investigation, or prosecution of specified qualifying crimes. The new law also requires certifying entities to complete the certification within 90 days of the request, except in cases where the applicant is in immigration removal proceedings, in which case the certification must be completed within 14 days of the request.

State of Texas, et al. v. United States of America. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has been a vigorous champion of President Obama's November 2014 executive actions on immigration, which include an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. On February 16, 2015, Texas and 25 other states obtained a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining the start of these executive actions on immigration. The federal government appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal and on April 6, 2015 California, along with Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, joined a friend-of-the-court brief authored by the State of Washington supporting the U.S.'s appeal of the preliminary injunction. The states' brief argues that the plaintiffs failed to show the irreparable injury required to support a preliminary injunction, and that suspending deportation and providing work authorization will substantially benefit families and state economies; that the directives will not require states to increase spending on public safety, healthcare, or other state benefits; and that the public interest will be furthered by allowing eligible undocumented immigrants to work legally and by allowing eligible family members to remain together and continue contributing to their communities. On November 9, 2015, the Fifth Circuit, in 2-1 decision, affirmed the preliminary injunction blocking the President’s executive actions. The federal government has announced that it plans to request that the United States Supreme Court review the Fifth Circuit’s decision.

Attorney General's Office, Univision Los Angeles and SEIU California's Statewide Public Forums on Immigration. In the summer of 2015, the Attorney General's Office hosted a series of statewide public forums in partnership with Univision Los Angeles, Service Employees International Union of California and iAmerica to inform Californians about the impact of President Barack Obama's immigration executive actions. The public forums were hosted in eight California counties including: Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Monterey, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Clara and Stanislaus. The forums covered topics ranging from eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, including how to avoid being a victim of immigrant consultant fraud.