Lorena Gonzalez Bill to Protect Californians from Civil Arrest in Courthouses Signed into Law

Saturday, October 12, 2019

AB 668 Prevents Aggressive Tactics by I.C.E. Officers to Target Immigrants

SACRAMENTO – (Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019) – Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation by state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D - San Diego) that would allow California’s immigrant the ability to testify, file claims or otherwise access justice at courthouses around the state without the threat of civil arrest such as immigration enforcement taking place.

“The courts have an institutional responsibility to ensure all Californians have safe and orderly access to justice,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “When people don’t feel safe showing up to court to act as a witness, pay a fine, or file papers because they may be subjected to civil arrest -- the system is broken.”

Priorities and tactics around immigration enforcement have escalated since the election of President Donald Trump. Assembly Bill 668 will address the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) agency’s pattern of aggressive enforcement within California courthouses by ordering that no person shall be subject to civil arrest in a courthouse while attending a court proceeding or having legal business in the courthouse.

The threat of civil arrest is very real in California. Recently, I.C.E. agents targeted a Monterey County superior court building and arrested a man after he entered the building with his family.

When immigrant communities are fearful of going to court, their access to justice is limited. AB 668 clarifies the power of judicial officers to prevent activities that threaten access to courthouses, which includes protecting the privilege from civil arrest. The measure also states that California’s Attorney General may bring forward a civil action if there is a reasonable cause to believe a violation of the bill’s provisions has occurred.

The removal of threat from civil arrest at courthouses will reassure members of the immigrant community that they should report violations of state laws or regulations, and encourage these individuals to participate in court proceedings, which serves the public interest of all Californians.

For questions on AB 668 or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Sami Gallegos (209) 658-7617.