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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Latino Community Protests Governor Brown's Vetoes

Labor workers say the vetoes give animals more rights than illegal immigrants and farmers in California.

Hundreds of protesters united at the Ronald Reagan State Building Tuesday in response to Gov. Jerry Brown's veto of bills that would protect illegal immigrants.

Farm workers, DREAM students and labor organizations protested the governor's vetoes of legislation that would help the Latino community including the Trust Act, the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights and the farm workers' heat protection bills. 

"It's unacceptable that immigrants and Latinos in California will continue to live in fear of attacks," said Maria Elena Duraz, the leader of the Los Angeles labor movement.

With the Trust Act, police would be unable to detain illegal immigrants unless they had previously been arrested for violent crimes.

Because of the veto, the "Secure Communities" program will continue to be implemented. The program resulted in law enforcement deporting more than 80,000 immigrants for minor and non-violent offenses.

"In schools, children were sexually abused by teachers. Parents knew about this but they did not call the police for fear of deportation. This makes our community unsafe," said one male protester.

The bill that Gov. Brown signed allows some young immigrants to have driver's licenses. He considered the Trust Act legislation flawed because some crimes such as child abuse, drug trafficking and the selling of weapons would not qualify for the deportation process.

Many sheriff's deputies objected the bill because it would force them to choose between state and federal law.

Governor Brown also vetoed the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights that would have ended the exclusion of domestic workers from basic labor protections. This includes rights such as overtime pay and meal and rest breaks to the childcare providers, house cleaners and caregivers in the state.

A sheep stood in front of the crowd doing the protests as a constant reminder that farm animals will continue to have more protection under California law than farm workers.

The Humane Treatment for Farm Workers Act, which would make it a misdemeanor crime to not provide appropriate water and shade to workers laboring under high heat conditions, was rejected by Gov. Brown.

The final vetoed bill in protest was the Farm Worker Safety Act that would have allowed workers to enforce the state's heat regulations by suing employers who repeatedly violate the law.

"It's appalling that 200,000 domestic workers will continue to work without rest or meal breaks. It's outrageous when abuse of a farm animal is taken more seriously than abuse of a farm worker. Governor Brown let us down," said Durazo.

Despite these vetoes, California continues to be one of the nation's most immigrant-friendly states, allowing undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition and soon they will be able to receive state financial aid.

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