California Gov. Brown Vetoes Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights, Trust Act

With minutes ticking down to a midnight deadline to sign bills passed by the state legislature this session, California Governor Jerry Brown last night issued two vetoes that will disappoint many Californians as well as workers' rights and immigration advocates: the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights (AB 889) and the Trust Act (AB 1081).

In his statement vetoing the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights — legislation that would have extended workplace protections to an estimated 200,000 domestic workers including house cleaners and caregivers — Gov. Brown said that the bill raised "a number of unanswered questions," including increased costs. "In the face of consequences both unknown and unintended, I find it more prudent to do the studies before considering an untested legal regime for those that work in our homes," wrote Gov. Brown. Reacting via Twitter, Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance called the veto "unacceptable." Similar legislation had been enacted in New York state in 2010, and efforts to advance rights for domestic workers are set to continue in statehouses next year.

The Trust Act, referred to as "Anti-Arizona" legislation for the different type of approach it signified compared to Arizona's SB 1070, would have limited the damage caused by the federal Secure Communities (S-Comm) program which has resulted in mass deportations of immigrants who have not been convicted of serious crimes. Despite support emerging for the measure from a wide range of coalition members, including many faith leaders, Gov. Brown wrote in his veto message that he thought list of offenses outlined in the bill was "fatally flawed." He did also suggest he was open to working with the legislature to alter the language and pass similar legislation in the future.

Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, noted both his disappointment and the urgency behind efforts like the Trust Act. "By vetoing the TRUST Act Governor Brown has failed California's immigrant communities, imperiling civil rights and leaving us all less safe," said Alvarado in a statement. "Immigration and Customs Enforcement strong-armed the Governor to defend its deportation quota instead of defending Californian's rights. On this sad day, we renew our commitment to fight to keep our families together despite the Governor and the President's insistence on seeing them torn apart."

Both measures had been introduced by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano.

The last-minute decisions in Sacramento weren't all disappointing for immigrant advocates. Governor Brown did sign a bill that will allow undocumented immigrants eligible for work permits under the Obama administration's Deferred Action policy to receive driver's licences — becoming the first state to do so.