MALDEF SUPPORTS CALIFORNIA BILL TO PROTECT RIGHTS OF MINORS SEEKING JUDICIAL REDRESS FOR SUFFERING HARM
AB 560 (Gomez) Seeks to Bar Consideration of Immigration Status in Cases with Child Victims
SACRAMENTO, CA - MALDEF proudly sponsors AB 560, a bill introduced last week by California Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-51), that would bar immigration status from consideration in civil court proceedings in which child victims seek damages for intentional or negligent acts that harm them. The bill closes an unintentional loophole in SB 1818 (Romero), enacted in 2002, which was designed to protect the rights of California workers by limiting the consideration of immigration status in cases by workers to enforce employment and other laws.
"No state should condone the notion that some children's lives and wellbeing are worth less than those of others," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "Thanks to Assemblymember Gomez, this bill will serve to ensure that California does not require child victims of wrongdoing to endure inquiry or argument about their current immigration status."
In 2002, the United States Supreme Court majority held, in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board, 535 U.S. 137 (2002), that federal immigration law bars an award of back pay to an unauthorized worker who had been fired in retaliation for supporting a union organizing campaign.
In the aftermath of that decision, the California Legislature enacted SB 1818 the same year, declaring that immigration status is irrelevant for liability purposes in enforcing state labor, employment, civil rights, and employee housing laws. The bill did not address protections for children or discuss personal injury cases.
AB 560, introduced by Assemblymember Gomez, would provide that the immigration status of a minor child seeking recovery under any applicable law is irrelevant to the issues of liability or remedy. The legislation would also protect minor children who are victims of torts from having their immigration status exposed, explored, and considered in seeking judicial recourse for the harms that they have suffered.
"California continues to be a leader in protecting undocumented children and families," said Assemblymember Gomez. "We will pursue discriminatory practices wherever they exist. AB 560 seeks to end the financial discounting of California's undocumented children."
No child victim of a serious tort, intentional or negligent, should have their recovery limited because of immigration status or ever be required to have their status discussed or debated in court. No wrongdoer, particularly an abuser, should face reduced consequences because the child victim was undocumented. Immigrant children deserve equal treatment. Their lives are worth the same as other children, and that fact must be reflected in the law.
The text of AB 560 is available here.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.