July 5, 2018

U.S. District Court Blocks Parts of AB 450

A federal judge in Sacramento has issued an order blocking the State of California from enforcing certain provisions of AB 450 – the recently enacted law that imposes various requirements on employers with respect to immigration worksite actions. However, in a blow to President Donald Trump, the judge declined to block other so-called “sanctuary laws” aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants from deportation.

AB 450, among other things, prohibits employers from providing voluntary consent to an immigration enforcement agent to enter nonpublic areas of a place of labor or to access, review or obtain the employer’s employee records. In blocking this provision, the court found that the law impermissibly discriminates against employers who choose to cooperate with the federal government.

The court also blocked the provision that prohibits employers from reverifying the employment eligibility of current employees when not required to do so by federal law, finding that prohibition stands as an obstacle to accomplishing Congress’s purpose in enacting the Immigration Reform and Control Act.

However, the court declined to enjoin enforcement of the provision that requires employers to provide 72 hours’ notice to its employees of any impending I-9 or employment record inspection. The judge said Congress singled out employers for compliance under IRCA, not undocumented aliens seeking employment, and there is “no indication that Congress intended for employees to be kept in the dark” regarding immigration enforcement activities.

The Department of Justice on behalf of the Trump administration sued the state in March challenging three of the “sanctuary laws.” The Justice Department, however, failed to secure a preliminary injunction challenging AB 103 (directing the Attorney General to review and report on county, local and private locked detention facilities in which noncitizens are housed or detained for purposes of civil immigration proceedings in California) and SB 54 (prohibiting state law enforcement agencies from sharing certain information for immigration enforcement purposes and limiting transfers of individuals to immigration authorities).

The preliminary rulings, taken together, constitute a determination that the federal government is likely to succeed on the merits at trial on the challenge to the employer consent and reverification provisions of AB 450, but not on its challenge to AB 103 and SB 54 or the employee notice provision of AB 450. The next front in this legal battle is likely in a trial before United State District Court Judge John Mendez, and the case could likely wend its way to the United States Supreme Court.