Jan. 18 (UPI) — California officials warned employers Thursday that they may face prosecution and fines if they give personal information on employees to federal immigration authorities unless a court order is served.
The warning came after reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was planning a large sweep in the state. And this month, a state law that prohibits employers from assisting federal authorities in obtaining information about suspected undocumented immigrants without a court order went into effect as part of state lawmakers’ efforts to make California a “sanctuary state.”
But on Thursday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the law will still be upheld.
“It’s important, given these rumors that are out there, to let people know – more specifically today, employers – that if they voluntarily start giving up information about their employees or access to their employees in ways that contradict our new California laws, they subject themselves to actions by my office,” Becerra said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “We will prosecute those who violate the law.”
The San Francisco Gate reported that ICE’s planned sweeps were intended to send a message to state lawmakers.
California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León reiterated that sentiment on Wednesday accused President Donald Trump of targeting California after losing a federal court case there that forced the administration to continue processing applications to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era initiative designed to give temporary, renewable work visas to children brought to the country illegally.
“Last week, California beat President Trump in a federal court battle over the future of the DACA program, and the Dreamers who continue to live here under its protection. Now he is lashing out,” De León said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The law in question is Assembly Bill 450, which was passed in October and went into effect on Jan. 1.
The bill prohibits public and private employers from voluntarily allowing immigration authorities from raiding workplaces or giving personal information about suspected undocumented immigrants without a court order. But the bill’s language points out several times that it only applies “except as required by federal law.”
Violating the law carries penalties of fine between $2,000 and $10,000.
The stir in California comes after ICE raided nearly 100 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country, including in California.
Thomas Homan, acting director of ICE, said the effort was to send a “strong message” to employers of undocumented immigrants.
“ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable,” Homan said.