Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed two bills Thursday that would have impacted the immigrant community: one that would have allowed non-citizens to sit on state boards and commissions and another that sought to block immigration officers from making arrests inside courthouses.
Brown vetoed SB-174, which would have made California the first in the country to allow non-citizens, both legal residents and those in the country illegally, to serve on local and state boards and commissions that now require citizenship.
“This bill would open up all boards and commissions to non-citizens. I believe existing law – which requires citizenship for these forms of public service – is the better path,” Brown said in his veto message.
That proposed law also would have cleaned up language in state law that defines who is a citizen. Current language exempts “the children of transient aliens” as citizens. That language, Lara said, is in conflict with the U.S. Constitutions 14th Amendment. While some argue the 14th Amendments meaning, it is widely viewed as guaranteeing citizenship to people born or naturalized on American soil.
Sen. Ricardo Lara, who authored the bill, responded to the veto in an e-mail: “There was a time when Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, African Americans, and Catholics were prevented from serving, and California cleared away those barriers. I predict that this barrier will eventually fall.”
Lara, D-Bell Gardens, authored also the second bill vetoed by Brown, which sought to prohibit immigration authorities from making arrests inside courthouses — a key point of contention between California officials and the Trump administration.
Brown wrote in his veto message that he supports the intent of the bill but worries it may have unintended consequences. He did not elaborate, but said he wants to wait until the state attorney general publishes model policies limiting assistance with immigration enforcement in courthouses, which is required under legislation Brown signed last year.
Browns vetoes were welcome news among those who believe that California has gone too far to accommodate its immigrant community, including more than 2 million people residing in the state illegally.
“Governance belongs to a nations citizens. Even Jerry Brown understands citizenship has to mean something,” said West Covina Councilman Mike Spence, whose council opposed SB-174.
Robin Hvidston, whose Claremont-based We the People Rising lobbied and testified against the legislation, said she was surprised and “elated.” Numerous organizations launched a telephone campaign to Browns office, urging him to veto the SB-174 measure, she said.
Meanwhile, in Huntington Park, the council changed a local ordinance in 2015 to allow two people who are not legal residents to serve on local commissions.
In recent years, Californias Democratic-controlled Legislature has passed numerous laws to advance and protect the rights of all immigrants. Last week, for example, Brown signed another of Laras bills, this one to decriminalize sidewalk vending, a business popular with many immigrants.
But not all the Democrats efforts have been successful. In 2013, for example, Brown vetoed a bill that would have allowed non-citizens who are legal residents to serve on juries. Brown said at the time: “Jury service, like voting, is quintessentially a prerogative and responsibility of citizenship.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.