Guide to Laws Related to Immigrants & Non Citizens in California

Here you will find information about California law related to immigrants and non-citizens. Most immigration related laws are national, so for much more info, please see our Guide to Immigration & Travel to the U.S. Statue of Liberty

1. Immigrants & law enforcement

What are sanctuary laws? What is a sanctuary city or state?

So-called “sanctuary laws” generally affirm a city or state’s policy position that only FEDERAL immigration officials (such as ICE) are allowed to enforce federal immigration laws. They may also prohibit certain cooperation between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration officials.

Is California a sanctuary state?

Yes. California law does not allow state or local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws, leaving this to the federal government. The California sanctuary law also does not allow state or local officials to ask about a person’s immigration status, and also prohibits police from working with federal immigration authorities unless a person has been convicted of significant crimes.

Is Los Angeles a sanctuary city?

Yes. The city of Los Angeles does not allow local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws, leaving this to federal agents. It prohibits LAPD from cooperating with an ICE request to detain someone unless a judge issues the order.

Can the police in California ask about immigration status?

No, see above.

Can undocumented immigrants be detained or deported in California?

Possibly. This is mostly federal law, so see our Guide to Immigration Laws in the U.S.

2. Driver Licenses

Can an unauthorized immigrant get a drivers license in California?

Yes. But they must still meet all other qualifications for a license and provide proof to the DMV of their identity and that they live in California.1CA Veh. Code Sec 12801.9

3. Immigration consultant services

What do I need to know about immigration consultants?

If you hire an immigration consultant, you have the right to cancel this agreement/ contract for any reason, as long as you do so within 3 days.2Cal Business & Professions Code 22442(f) If you cancel within the 3 days, you still must pay for any work the consultant has already done, but you don’t need to pay for anything the consultant does after you cancel, and you don’t need to pay a cancellation fee.

4. Health care for undocumented persons

Are undocumented immigrants eligible for health care benefits in California?

As of July 2019, California law allows undocumented persons to enroll in Medi-Cal (Medicaid) through age 25. See more about laws related to health.


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