Office of Immigrant Assistance

The Attorney General's Office is committed to protecting immigrant communities, public safety and the basic rights of all Californians through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws and consumer protections and by promoting trust and cooperation between immigrants and law enforcement.

California Laws Protecting Immigrants’ Civil Rights

Over the last several years, California has taken significant strides to protect immigrants, passing a broad range of laws to expand and uphold the civil and labor rights of immigrants, to equalize access to higher education, and to define the role local law enforcement agencies may play in the enforcement of federal immigration law. In its brief, "California Blueprint: Two Decades of Pro-Immigrant Transformation," the California Immigrant Policy Center highlights the broad range of state laws enacted since 1996.

The California Attorney General, as the state’s top law enforcement officer, is uniquely charged with overseeing effective implementation of the laws affecting California law enforcement agencies. Summaries of select laws enacted in recent years appear below.
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Legal Actions Taken by the Department of Justice

Protecting Immigrants
City and County of San Francisco v. Trump. On March 29, 2017, Attorney General Becerra filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case City and County of San Francisco v. Trump, et al., supporting San Francisco in its challenge to President Trump's executive order targeting “sanctuary jurisdictions.” Like the County of Santa Clara, San Francisco challenges President Trump's threats to withdraw federal funds from states and local jurisdictions that the Administration deems to be “sanctuary jurisdictions.” Attorney General Becerra's brief highlights California's interest in protecting state laws and policies that ensure public safety and protect the constitutional rights of residents. On April 25, 2017, a federal judge issued a ruling in this matter, and in the related matter of the County of Santa Clara v. Trump, that put a nationwide halt on the federal government's ability to enforce its threat to block cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement from receiving federal funds.

Challenging Trump's Travel Ban
State of Hawaii v. Trump. On April 20, 2017, Attorney General Becerra joined a coalition of 17 states filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to support the preliminary injunction obtained by the state of Hawaii which bars enforcement of unconstitutional provisions of the Trump Administration's revised executive order on travel. On May 15, 2017, a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on the Constitutionality of Trump's Muslim travel ban. The judges will decide whether to uphold a Hawaii judge's decision in March that blocked the ban.
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Partnerships and Public Forums

Office of the Attorney General, Univision LA, and SEIU CA Partner on Statewide Public Forums on Immigration. In the summer of 2016, the Attorney General's Civil Rights Enforcement Section hosted a series of statewide public forums in partnership with Univision Los Angeles, Service Employees International Union of California, and iAmerica to provide Californians applying for U.S. Citizenship with information on the application process and how to avoid immigration services fraud. The forums were hosted in eight California counties: Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Monterey, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Clara, and Stanislaus. The statewide public forums provided community members an opportunity to receive information about the citizenship process, set up an individual appointment for free assistance with citizenship applications, and hear from the Attorney General's Office on how individuals can avoid being a victim of immigration services scams and wage theft.
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Consumer Alerts & Publications

The Attorney General's Office routinely uses consumer alerts and brochures to inform immigrants about their legal rights and warn Californians about scams and other potential threats.

Consumer Alert on Immigration Consultants. The Attorney General's Office issued a consumer alert advising individuals in need of help with their immigration status to be careful with whom they consult. Only lawyers licensed to practice in state or federal courts can give legal advice. Lawyers or representatives accredited by the immigration court can represent individuals in immigration court. In California, notaries public, paralegals, accredited representatives and immigration consultants are not necessarily lawyers.
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Know Your Rights

The organizations and materials listed below are provided to serve as resources for the public and do not indicate an endorsement by the Attorney General's Office, nor do they constitute legal advice.

Know Your Rights - General Information

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Immigration – Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it a crime to live in the U.S. in violation of immigration laws?

    Living in the U.S. in violation of immigration laws is not itself a crime. It is a criminal misdemeanor to enter the U.S. without examination or inspection by immigration officers or to try to enter the U.S. by concealing or falsifying material facts, including immigration documents. Many immigrants, however, enter the country legally, but overstay their visa. These individuals have committed a violation of federal civil immigration law, which is subject to civil penalties (typically deportation), not criminal penalties.

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