Safe Access to Courts for Immigrants Senate Bill 785

Sponsored by District Attorney Gascón and in collaboration with Senator Scott Weiner and Assembly member Gonzalez Fletcher, the Safe Access to Courts for Immigrants Act will not allow the prosecution or defense in a criminal case to ask questions about a person’s immigration status in public court, unless the judge allows it.

Immigration Status Must be Relevant

The presiding judge must rule at an in camera hearing (in his chambers in a non-public setting) that evidence about a witness’s immigration status is relevant before it can be asked about in open court.

Witnesses Should Not be Afraid to Testify

In March 2017, California Chief Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly expressing concern over reports that immigration agents were stalking undocumented immigrants in California courthouses. By publicly stating the immigration status of individuals in our courthouses even when it is irrelevant to the trier of fact, some officers of the courts are chilling participation by undocumented immigrants by conveying to them that participation may lead to their deportation.

Status: Active Bill in Committee

The Act will be voted on in 2018.