The free legal services workers could receive include case review, legal advice and representation by an attorney, according to Newsom’s office.
“The time is now for us to ensure that immigrant labor rights are upheld and respected,” said Maria Elena De La Garza, executive director of the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County. “We commend the state for supporting this pilot, which will help ensure that legal services are available and accessible through partnerships with trusted community-based organizations across California.”
State officials did not answer questions about when the program would begin this year, which community organizations it would partner with, or how many cases the pilot program is expected to process.
Funding for the pilot program will come from the $45 million the state annually allocates for immigration services from the California Department of Social Services, said Erin Hickey, spokesperson for the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency. The state is still completing contracts with selected immigration service providers, she said.
State officials said the pilot program aligns with a new Biden administration policy that makes it easier for undocumented workers who are victims of labor rights violations to request deferred action from deportation. Because the federal Department of Homeland Security can’t respond to all immigration violations, it exercises “prosecutorial discretion” to decide who to try to deport.
State officials said they won’t ask for workers’ immigration status, but noncitizens granted this deferred action may be eligible for work authorization.