SoCal Lawmakers’ Proposal Would Allow All Californians — Even People in U.S. Illegally — to Serve on State Boards

State lawmakers on Monday introduced legislation that would allow all Californians to serve on state boards and commissions regardless of immigration status.

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) rests on his chair during a break in a Senate Rules Committee meeting in Sacramento. (Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) rests on his chair during a break in a Senate Rules Committee meeting in Sacramento. (Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

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.

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