SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — The Calif. State Assembly voted 54-21 to approve legislation to bring equity to California’s criminal justice laws, by ensuring the use and manufacturing of false immigration documents carries the same penalties as the use and production of a fake driver’s license. Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra’s (D-Pacoima) AB 222 requires California voters to repeal sections 113 and 114 of the California Penal Code, an unnecessary and anti-immigrant provision enacted in 1994 as part of Proposition 187 to fight the perceived ills of illegal immigration and unfairly punish undocumented immigrants in California.
“Prop. 187 was an ill-intentioned, unconstitutional initiative that specifically targeted undocumented immigrants,” said Assemblymember Bocanegra. “Unfortunately, our federal government has failed to learn from past mistakes in our history. AB 222 reiterates the Legislature’s commitment to protecting California’s immigrant community, and also offers redemption from the voters to repeal these discriminatory laws at the ballot box.”
The measure will slow immigration officials’ ability deport non-violent offenders, like Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, who was deported and separated from her children for a felony conviction of possessing false documents to seek employment and provide for her family, a class of individuals that has been targeted by the Trump administration. In Denver, Jeanette Vizguerra, who also had a similar conviction, took refuge at a church to avoid deportation after seeing what had transpired in the Garcia de Rayos case. Ms. Vizguerra was recently granted a two-year deportation stay last month.
“Today, if an underage college student uses a fake ID to purchase a six-pack of beer, he or she can be charged with a misdemeanor,” said Assemblymember Bocanegra. “However, if an immigrant is caught using that same fake ID, he or she is automatically charged with a felony and is subject to five years in prison. AB 222 will treat people equally, and will no longer take into account someone’s immigration status.”
Under current California law, individuals convicted of using false documents to conceal one’s immigration status are convicted of a mandatory felony, punishable by five years in prison or a fine of $25,000. In contrast, a felony conviction for assault with a handgun is punishable by two to four years in state prison. A bomb threat is a misdemeanor. AB 222 eliminates the Penal Code section to ensure that use of false documents to conceal one’s immigrations status carries the same weight as possessing a false or counterfeit driver’s license, a crime which can be charged as a misdemeanor, and is also subject to the District Attorney’s discretion.
AB 222 now heads to the Senate.
Raul Bocanegra is the Democratic Majority Whip in the California State Assembly. He represents the 39th Assembly District, which includes the Los Angeles communities of Arleta, Granada Hills, Lakeview Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Shadow Hills, Sun Valley, Sunland-Tujunga.