All Californians Would Be Able to Serve on State Boards — Even People in the U.S. Illegally — Under New Bill
State lawmakers on Monday introduced legislation that would allow all Californians to serve on state boards and commissions regardless of immigration status.
Senate Bill 174, by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), comes as the state is locked in a broader legal battle with the Trump administration over state immigration laws and his call for mass deportations. Lawmakers point to what they say is the state’s own discriminatory history as their basis for introducing the legislation.
The proposal would amend an 1872 provision that was first adopted to exclude Chinese immigrants and other “transient aliens” from holding appointed civil positions. At the time, antipathy toward the Chinese had been building in California, though, Chinese immigrants opened hundreds of businesses across the state and would play a critical role in building the transcontinental railroad.
The Senate bill would delete the phrase “transient aliens” from the government code and make clear that any person, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, can hold an appointed civil office if they are at least 18 years old and a resident of the state. That would allow any Californian to serve on hundreds of boards and commissions that advice in an array of policy areas, including farm labor, history and employment development.
“California’s two million undocumented immigrants are a source of energy for our state,” Lara said in a statement. “It is shocking to read the words of fear and exclusion that are still in California law but belong in history’s trash can.”