BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING


          AB  
          60 (Gonzalez)


          As Amended  March 26, 2015


          2/3 vote.  Urgency


           --------------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Committee       |Votes |Ayes                      |Noes              |
          |----------------+------+--------------------------+------------------|
          |Judiciary       |10-0  |Mark Stone, Wagner,       |                  |
          |                |      |Alejo, Chau, Chiu,        |                  |
          |                |      |Cristina Garcia,          |                  |
          |                |      |Gallagher, Holden,        |                  |
          |                |      |Maienschein, O'Donnell    |                  |
          |----------------+------+--------------------------+------------------|
          |Appropriations  |16-0  |Gomez, Bigelow, Bonilla,  |                  |
          |                |      |Bonta, Calderon, Chang,   |                  |
          |                |      |Daly,                     |                  |
          |                |      |                          |                  |
          |                |      |                          |                  |
          |                |      |Eduardo Garcia, Eggman,   |                  |
          |                |      |Gallagher, Holden, Quirk, |                  |
          |                |      |Rendon, Wagner, Weber,    |                  |
          |                |      |Wood                      |                  |
          |                |      |                          |                  |
          |                |      |                          |                  |
           --------------------------------------------------------------------- 


          SUMMARY:  Clarifies that existing protections against fraud  
          related to immigration reform services apply when that immigration  
          reform arises from executive action, in addition to congressional  








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          action.  Specifically, this bill:   
          1)Revises the definition of an "immigration reform act" to include  
            the President's executive actions on immigration announced on  
            November 20, 2014, or any future executive action or order that  
            authorizes an undocumented immigrant who either entered the  
            United States without inspection or who did not depart after the  
            expiration of a nonimmigrant visa, to attain a lawful status  
            under federal law.  Further requires the State Bar to announce  
            and post on its Internet Web site when such an executive action  
            or order has been issued.
          2)Defines "immigration reform act services" to means services  
            offered in connection with an immigration reform act that are  
            for the purpose of preparing an application and other related  
            initial processes in order for an undocumented immigrant, who  
            either entered the United States without inspection or who did  
            not depart after the expiration of a nonimmigrant visa, to  
            attain a lawful status under an immigration reform act.   
            Clarifies that they do not include services that have an  
            independent value apart from the preparation of an application  
            pursuant to an immigration reform act and other related initial  
            processes, such as assisting a client in preventing removal from  
            the United States and achieving postconviction relief from prior  
            criminal convictions.


          3)Prohibits attorneys and immigration consultants from demanding  
            or accepting advance payment of any funds from a person for  
            immigration reform act services in connection with any of the  
            following:


             a)   Requests for expanded Deferred Action for Childhood  
               Arrivals (DACA) pursuant to an immigration reform act, as  
               defined, before the date the United States Citizenship and  
               Immigration Services begins accepting those requests.
             b)   Requests for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and  
               Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) pursuant to an immigration  
               reform act, as defined, before the date the United States  
               Citizenship and Immigration Services begins accepting those  








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               requests.


             c)   Requests for Expanded Provisional Waivers of Unlawful  
               Presence pursuant to an immigration reform act, as defined,  
               before the issuance and effective date of new guidelines and  
               regulation for those provisional waivers.


             d)   Any relief offered under any executive action announced or  
               executive order issued, on or after the effective date of  
               this bill, that authorizes an undocumented immigrant who  
               either entered the United States without inspection or who  
               did not depart after the expiration of a nonimmigrant visa to  
               attain a lawful status under federal law, before the  
               executive action or order has been implemented and the relief  
               is available.


          4)Clarifies that any advance payment of funds for immigration  
            reform act services that was received after October 5, 2013, but  
            before the enactment or implementation of the immigration reform  
            act for which the services were sought, shall be refunded to the  
            client promptly, but no later than 30 days after the receipt of  
            the funds.
          5)Makes technical and clarifying changes to ensure that existing  
            provisions for handling advance payments apply to funds that  
            were received prior to the effective date of the amendments made  
            by this bill, rather than October 5, 2013 (the date that AB 1159  
            (Gonzalez), Chapter 574, Statutes of 2013, became effective.)


          6)Contains an urgency clause allowing the provisions of this bill  
            to take effect immediately upon enactment.


          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee:









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          1)Violations by attorneys and immigration consultants of the  
            underlying statutes amended by this bill are misdemeanors, and  
            immigration consultants are also subject to civil penalties.   
            This bill could therefore result in addition non-reimbursable  
            costs to local governments for prosecution, offset to some  
            extent by fine revenue.  In addition, there could be minor state  
            and local revenue increases from civil actions brought against  
            immigration consultants by the Attorney General or local  
            prosecutors for violations of the bill's provisions.


          2)This bill will not result in any additional state costs beyond  
            the minor one-time costs previously identified to implement AB  
            1159.


          COMMENTS:  For several years, the Obama administration and  
          Congressional Democrats and Republicans have been engaged in  
          challenging political discussions over potentially sweeping  
          changes to federal immigration law.  While the outcome of that  
          debate in Washington is far from certain, some individuals in  
          California have apparently sought to charge immigrants for various  
          legal and paralegal or quasi-legal services ("immigration reform  
          act services") that cannot appropriately be performed prior to  
          such reform taking place and some kind of relief actually being  
          available.  


          According to the author and supporters, a large number of people  
          are at risk of exploitation given the potential size of the  
          immigrant pool that may be affected.  Undocumented immigrants may  
          be particularly vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous businesses and  
          individuals because of the risks they face in asserting their  
          rights as consumers and victims of fraud or other wrongdoing.   
          Like its predecessor, AB 1159, this bill seeks to protect  
          immigrants seeking potential relief under prospective immigration  
          reform from being charged fees for certain services before such  
          relief can possibly be obtained pursuant to the relevant  








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          immigration reform act.  This bill is specifically needed because  
          AB 1159 was worded in a way that its protections only apply with  
          respect to an "immigration reform act" that is "enacted," or in  
          other words, the result of legislation passed by Congress and  
          signed into law by the President.  


          In light of the recent immigration executive actions announced by  
          President Obama on November 20, 2014, the author subsequently  
          introduced this legislation to ensure that the same protections  
          established by AB 1159 in 2013 shall apply to protect immigrants  
          who may be targeted by those now offering services to obtain  
          potential relief pursuant to the executive actions set forth by  
          the President.  To mitigate the need for follow-up legislation  
          every time new federal immigration reform is proposed and  
          corresponding immigration reform services are offered in  
          anticipation, the bill also seeks to apply these protections to  
          future immigration reform efforts, whether they arise from either  
          legislation enacted by Congress, or executive action ordered by  
          the President.


          Background on Proposed Executive Actions.  On November 20, 2014,  
          President Obama announced a series of executive actions on  
          immigration (President's November 20th executive actions).   
          According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration  
          Services (USCIS), the primary agency responsible for implementing  
          them, these initiatives include:




          1)Expanding the population eligible for the DACA program to people  
            of any current age who entered the United States before the age  
            of 16 and lived in the United States continuously since January  
            1, 2010, and extending the period of DACA and work authorization  
            from two years to three years.










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          2)Allowing parents of United States citizens and lawful permanent  
            residents to request deferred action and employment  
            authorization for three years, in a new DAPA program, provided  
            they have lived in the United States continuously since January  
            1, 2010, and pass required background checks.


          3)Expanding the use of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to  
            include the spouses and sons and daughters of lawful permanent  
            residents and the sons and daughters of United States citizens.   
            (See  http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction  )
          On December 10, 2014, this bill was introduced to further the  
          objectives of AB 1159 and protect consumers seeking services in  
          connection with the President's November 20th executive actions.   
          On February 16, 2015, however, a federal court in Texas issued a  
          preliminary injunction to temporarily prevent the federal  
          government from implementing the DAPA and expanded DACA programs  
          pursuant to the President's November 20th executive actions.   
          USCIS had planned to begin accepting applications for the expanded  
          DACA program on February 18, 2015, while the DAPA program was  
          expected to begin taking applications sometime in May 2015.  At  
          the time of this analysis, the Department of Homeland Security was  
          not accepting requests for either DAPA, or the expanded DACA  
          programs, pending an appeal of the case.  (See "Federal Court  
          Halts DAPA and Expanded DACA Programs", Center for Migration  
          Studies, 2/17/15, located at  
           http://cmsny.org/federal-court-halts-dapa-and-expanded-daca-program 
          s  .)


          Revised Definition of "Immigration Reform Act" and "Immigration  
          Reform Act Services."  Under existing law, an "immigration reform  
          act" is defined as an act of Congress that is enacted after  
          October 5, 2013, (the effective date of AB 1159) but before  
          January 1, 2017, that authorizes an undocumented immigrant who  
          either entered the United States without inspection or who did not  
          depart after the expiration of a nonimmigrant visa, to attain  
          lawful status under federal law.  In order to extend existing  
          protections to immigration reform established by executive action,  








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          this bill redefines "immigration reform act" to explicitly include  
          the President's November 20th executive actions on immigration as  
          well as any future executive action or order that similarly  
          authorizes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.


          To address concerns that the bill is overly broad and  
          unnecessarily restricts immigration attorneys from performing  
          basic tasks to assess a client's potential options, the author  
          recently amended the bill to clarify that immigration reform act  
          services do not include legal services that have an independent  
          value apart from the preparation of an application pursuant to an  
          immigration reform act and other related initial processes, such  
          as assisting a client in preventing removal from the United  
          States, or achieving postconviction relief from prior criminal  
          convictions.  Importantly, this definition relates only to  
          services regarding an immigration reform act and should not be  
          implicated in the provision of lawful and appropriate preliminary  
          or preparatory work for clients, such as obtaining records and  
          documentation for use in applications or filings under any other  
          immigration law or other law.


          Restrictions on Advance Fees Before Any Immigration Reform Takes  
          Effect.  Under existing law enacted by AB 1159, attorneys and  
          immigration consultants are prohibited from demanding any funds,  
          or from accepting advance payment of any funds, for immigration  
          reform act services prior to the enactment of an immigration  
          reform act.  It should be noted that the prohibition is directed  
          at services for a fee; if no fee is charged, this law is not  
          triggered.  Under AB 1159, the reason for this prohibition appears  
          to be plain: before proposed legislation has been signed into law,  
          it is impossible to know who might be eligible and what steps  
          would be needed to submit an application.  This bill seeks to  
          ensure that restrictions on advance fees apply to services offered  
          in connection with prospective immigration reform arising either  
          from legislation enacted by Congress (as is the case under  
          existing law) or from executive action.  In response to the  
          President's November 20th executive actions, this bill  








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          specifically prohibits advance fees for services related to  
          requests for relief under the expanded DACA program and the DAPA  
          program before the date the USCIS begins accepting those requests,  
          as well as for requests for expanded Provisional Waivers of  
          Unlawful Presence before the issuance and effective date of new  
          guidelines and regulations for those waivers.  In addition, for  
          any future executive action or order that similarly authorizes an  
          undocumented immigrant to attain a lawful status, as specified,  
          the bill would prohibit advance fees for such services before the  
          executive action or order has been implemented and the relief is  
          available.


          Reform of Immigration Consultants Act.  The Immigration  
          Consultants Act (ICA) was enacted in 1986 to regulate activities  
          of immigration consultants who perform a variety of services for  
          persons who seek adjustment of their immigrant status at minimal  
          cost.  As described previously, AB 1159 prohibited not only  
          lawyers but immigration consultants from demanding or accepting  
          advance payment of any funds from a person for immigration reform  
          act services before the reform is enacted.  It also required  
          consultants who provide immigration reform act services to deposit  
          any funds received into a client trust account and only withdraw  
          funds upon completing an itemized service or document.  This bill  
          revises the ICA to require immigration consultants to follow the  
          same restrictions placed upon attorneys with respect to advance  
          fee payments and required practices for depositing or refunding  
          advance fees already collected.  The bill revises the definitions  
          of "immigration reform act" and "immigration reform act services"  
          under the ICA to mirror those applied to immigration attorneys.  




          Analysis Prepared by:                                               
          Anthony Lew / JUD. / (916) 319-2334  FN: 0000113











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