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United States Files Lawsuit Against State of California for Unlawful Cap and Trade Agreement with the Canadian Province of Quebec

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Campaign Fundraiser Agrees To Plead Guilty To Falsifying Records to Conceal Work as Foreign Agent, Evading Taxes on Income Obtained by Lobbying on Behalf of Foreign Entities, and Illegal Campaign Contributions

California Resident Sentenced to Prison for Selling Fraudulent Financial Instruments and Tax Fraud

Southern California Doctor Found Guilty in $12 Million Medicare Fraud and Device Adulteration Scheme

California Resident Charged with Leading Telemarketing Conspiracy to Defraud and Extort U.S. Consumers

Archbishop of a Nevada City Spiritual Organization and Six Others Indicted in $8 Million Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy

First Co-Defendant in Multi-Million Dollar Real Estate Deed Theft Scheme Sentenced to Prison

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California DOJ Feeds

  • Attorney General Becerra Files Lawsuit Against EPA for Attacking California’s Advanced Clean Car Standards
    by Office of the Attorney General on November 15, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    November 15, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govCalifornia is joined by 23 other attorneys general, as well as the cities of Los Angeles and New York  SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a multistate coalition in filing a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to revoke the portions of a waiver it granted California in 2013 that permit the state to implement its greenhouse gas (GHG) and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standards. The action, filed in the D.C. Circuit, is part of the state’s ongoing fight to protect California’s Advanced Clean Car Standards. These standards are followed, in whole or in part, by 13 other states and are a key part of state efforts to protect public health and the environment. “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: California will not back down when it comes to protecting our people, our health, and our environment from preventable pollution,” said Attorney General Becerra. “California’s Clean Car Standards are achievable. They not only work, many other states around the country have chosen to adopt them. The Trump Administration, on the other hand, has chosen to side with polluters. We believe we’re on the right side of history.”  “The Trump Administration continues to weaponize federal agencies in his war against public health and clean air,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom, a named plaintiff in this lawsuit. “California won’t back down – we, along with major automakers who voluntarily signed onto our framework, know that the future is clean cars. There’s no time to waste and we’ll continue to fight to defend our state’s rights to set our own standards.” “Today’s action marks a new chapter in CARB’s long battle to clean the air Californians breathe,” said California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols. “We will be asking the court to declare that our right to demand cleaner cars and trucks is protected under the federal Clean Air Act and cannot be taken away by the Trump Administration simply because they don’t believe in the science of climate change — or because they want to punish us for taking action. For over 50 years, we have used our authority to push the auto manufacturers to build cleaner cars, using state of the art technology. We are not about to be turned around by these bullies.” "Angelenos' health is at stake. That's why we've joined Attorney General Becerra and others in fighting the Administration's unlawful attack on California's efforts to clean up our air," said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.  "Our residents know the devastating impact of pollution from cars on their well-being, and they're incredulous that the President would try to roll back standards that protect them."    Today’s filing also includes a protective petition that asks the D.C. Circuit to review a separate regulation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) designed to preempt California’s GHG and ZEV standards. On September 20, 2019, Attorney General Becerra, along with California Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Air Resources Board, and a coalition of 24 attorneys general and three cities, filed a lawsuit in the district court in Washington, D.C. alleging that NHTSA’s preemption regulation is unlawful and should be vacated. The federal government has moved to dismiss that case on the grounds that it belongs in D.C. Circuit Court, and briefing is ongoing. While California’s coalition maintains that the district court has jurisdiction in this challenge, in the event the court disagrees, the protective portion of today’s petition preserves the coalition’s ability to challenge NHTSA’s preemption regulation. Under the federal Clean Air Act, California may obtain a waiver from EPA to set its own vehicle emissions standards that are at least as protective as the federal government’s standards. Under certain conditions, other states have the option to adopt California’s standards. Congress granted California this option for several reasons, including: California’s historical leadership in vehicle emissions regulation; California’s need to address the extraordinary and compelling air pollution issues affecting the state; and the benefits the nation accrues from allowing California and willing states to foster advances in reducing pollution from vehicles. Over the past 50 years, the EPA has granted more than 100 waivers for California standards. Thanks to those standards, the state has reduced emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons annually, encouraged the development of emission controls technologies, and contributed to stronger federal standards, all as Congress intended. In January 2012, California adopted its comprehensive Advanced Clean Cars Program for cars and light duty trucks for model years 2017 through 2025. The program combines the control of smog-causing pollutants and GHG emissions into a single coordinated package. The program improves air quality and curbs GHG while saving drivers money at the pump. When accounting for emissions savings from other states that have adopted California’s standards, these emission reductions nearly triple.  Joining Attorney General Becerra in today’s filing are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia; as well as the cities of Los Angeles and New York. A copy of the filing is available here. 

  • Attorney General Becerra Calls for Nationwide Ban on Non-Compete Agreements, Reminds Businesses of Existing Prohibition in California
    by Office of the Attorney General on November 15, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    November 15, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govSACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect workers by banning non-compete agreements in employment contracts nationwide. In a letter, the coalition urges the FTC to promulgate a regulation prohibiting the use of non-compete provisions, which can prevent employees from seeking better pay and benefits by going to work for a competitor. California law protects workers from non-compete provisions by making them unenforceable in employee contracts for businesses operating in the state. The Attorney General also used this opportunity to remind employers that non-compete provisions are unenforceable in California. “Employers should compete for workers with wages, benefits, and quality of work, not with anticompetitive and one-sided provisions that prevent people from having access to better opportunities,” said Attorney General Becerra. “At a time when income inequality and wage stagnation pose a threat to our economic security, there is no excuse for employers who coerce their workers into staying on a job. Non-compete provisions distort our labor markets, limiting worker mobility and making it more difficult for businesses to recruit. Today, I’m calling on the FTC to stop companies from throwing sand in the gears of a robust labor market through these anticompetitive practices. For businesses operating in our state, let me make one thing clear: non-compete agreements are not enforceable here in California.” Non-compete agreements harm workers and the economy by restraining labor markets. In total, approximately 60 million Americans, roughly two in every five people in the labor force, have worked under a non-compete provision. Non-compete provisions limit the ability of people across the labor market to seek better jobs, affecting anyone from software engineers and journalists to baristas and home healthcare workers. These anticompetitive provisions also harm the economy by depriving businesses of the opportunity to hire workers who may otherwise be available or qualified. California law expressly prohibits employers, including those who operate out of state but employ Californians, from enforcing non-compete agreements. Even when unenforceable, these anticompetitive provisions can discourage workers from seeking new opportunities. Workers in a variety of professions may mistakenly believe that they cannot pursue or accept a competitor’s offer of better pay or working conditions without suffering legal repercussions. Many may believe that their only option is to continue to work for their current employer. Low-wage workers may be disproportionately affected because of limited access to employment law resources and financial insecurity that makes taking a perceived risk untenable. Today’s letter supports a petition submitted to the FTC earlier this year by an alliance of labor unions, public interest groups, and legal advocates requesting that the FTC initiate a rulemaking effort to classify worker non-compete provisions as an unfair method of competition and illegal under the Federal Trade Commission Act. Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting the rights of workers throughout the state and across the country. In July, Attorney General Becerra urged the FTC to take a stand against non-compete agreements in response to a request for public comments around hearings on competition and consumer protection in the 21st century. Earlier this year, the California Department of Justice, as part of a multistate effort, entered into agreements with major fast food companies operating around the country prohibiting them from including no-poach provisions in their franchise contracts. That effort built on a multistate review of anticompetitive agreements used by fast food companies in their employment contracts. In September, Attorney General Becerra urged the U.S. Department of Labor to rescind a proposal undermining civil rights protections that prevent federal contractors from discriminating against employees. The Attorney General has also actively sought to tackle other anticompetitive practices and, among other actions, has led lawsuits against T-Mobile, Sutter Health, and Valero to protect consumers in the marketplace. In submitting the letter, Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of Minnesota, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. A copy of the letter is available here.

  • Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition Pushing Back Against Faulty Federal Proposal Undermining Immigration Protections for Abused Children
    by Office of the Attorney General on November 14, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    November 14, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govSACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a coalition of 17 attorneys general pushing back against a federal proposal that would undermine children’s access to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ). SIJ, a classification created by Congress in 1990, protects abused, neglected, and abandoned children by allowing them to become legal residents, and eventually U.S. citizens. The newly proposed federal rule subverts the statutory role and expertise of states in safeguarding the welfare and best interests of children by requiring individuals seeking protection under SIJ to needlessly repeat steps with the federal government that would have already been lawfully handled by state juvenile courts. In a comment letter to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the coalition calls on the Trump Administration to overhaul this proposed rule, which risks inflicting additional trauma on thousands of already vulnerable children. In the 2018 fiscal year alone, there were 21,917 SIJ applications nationwide. Thousands of children who may qualify for SIJ live in California. In fact, between October 2013 and September 2019, adult sponsors in California welcomed 36,186 unaccompanied children, many of whom are eligible for SIJ, more than any other state. “Rather than fixing our immigration system, President Trump and his administration are needlessly creating pointless new hurdles for children who have suffered abuse,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Time and time again this administration tries to find ways to push immigrants to the edges of our society – this time by adding useless rules. But the consequences here are not just creating more red tape, this rule would put at risk the lives of children who have already suffered the unimaginable. Together, we’re calling on the Trump Administration to overhaul this latest, foolhardy proposal.” The Trump Administration’s proposal threatens to undercut SIJ protections that have existed for decades. Under the existing process, state juvenile courts have the authority to issue predicate orders that can enable a child to be eligible for SIJ if a child is unable to reunify with a parent because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment as outlined under state law. Once a predicate order has been issued, the child can apply for SIJ and USCIS has 180 days to make a decision on the application. Regrettably, the proposed rule on SIJ creates new layers of red tape that are not only duplicative of existing state functions in many respects but also increase the burden on children. The federal government is now asking for the submission of additional evidence to USCIS that reunification is not viable under state law, despite the fact that a state court would have already made that determination in a court order. By adding this requirement and others, USCIS undermines the deference and credit owed to state court decisions. Furthermore, it is unclear how USCIS’ personnel would be equipped to interpret and make decisions on the multitude of laws across 50 states, as well as the laws of tribal organizations or territories under the administrative control of the U.S. government. In the comment letter, the coalition notes that it is not USCIS’ role to second-guess or re-adjudicate determinations already lawfully made by state courts. Attorney General Xavier Becerra is committed to upholding the rights of those seeking refuge in California and across the country. In August, Attorney General Becerra filed an amicus brief in support of efforts to defend children against USCIS attempts to undermine SIJ. Last week, Attorney General Becerra co-led a coalition of attorneys general in opposition to a Trump Administration proposal that would make it more difficult for asylum-seekers to work. In May, the Attorney General led a multistate coalition in support of a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s illegal efforts to prevent those who have not entered the country at a “port of entry” from applying for asylum in the United States. In February, Attorney General Becerra fought back against the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s practice of denying people access to the asylum process through misrepresentations, threats and intimidation, coercion, and verbal and physical abuse. In filing the comment letter, California is joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. A copy of the comment letter is available here.

  • Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Comment Letter to Protect Public Health from Particulate Matter Pollution
    by Office of the Attorney General on November 13, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    November 13, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govSACRAMENTO – Attorney General Becerra led a multistate coalition in filing comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Draft Policy Assessment regarding National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter. Particulate Matter is a pollutant emitted from a variety of sources including vehicles, factories, and construction sites. Particulates are linked to many serious public health problems including premature mortality, cardiovascular disease, respiratory impacts, and cancer. In the comment letter, the attorneys general urge the EPA to consider and thoroughly evaluate the current science on Particulate Matter emissions, exposure, and health effects and engage in a transparent process when deciding whether to revise the current air quality standards. “Our message to the EPA is simple: follow the science. Changes to our air quality standards must benefit public health—not for-profit polluters,” said Attorney General Becerra. “In California, disproportionately impacted communities from the South Coast to the San Joaquin Valley unjustly bear the brunt of this harmful pollution. We’re fighting for more stringent standards so that all Californians, no matter their zip code, have clean air to breathe.” In the comment letter, the attorneys general fault EPA for attempting to rush through the scientific process of reviewing the dangers from Particulate Matter exposure without essential input from the scientific community. Instead, the state coalition reminds EPA that the decision to revise current air quality standards should be transparent, based on current science, and in service of the public health. The attorneys general note EPA’s long-standing conclusion that exposure to fine Particulate Matter, known as PM2.5, is linked to serious negative health outcomes. EPA’s current standards have reduced annual concentrations of PM2.5 by 39 percent between 2000 and 2018.  However, Particulate Matter exposure, even under the current standards, continues to present significant health and welfare risks. Therefore, the coalition argues that EPA must remedy errors that are undermining the scientific integrity and transparency of the review process and that any revisions to the Particulate Matter air quality standards should maximize benefits to the public health. The stakes are high: according to the California Air Resources Board, exposure to man-made PM2.5 emissions is responsible for 7,200 excess premature deaths, 1,900 excess hospitalizations, and 5,200 excess emergency room visits. Joining Attorney General Becerra in filing the comments are the attorneys general of Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island. A copy of the comments can be found here and here.

  • Attorney General Becerra Co-Leads Multistate Coalition in Support of Lawsuit Against the Trump Administration’s Attempt to Use Healthcare Coverage to Ban Immigration
    by Office of the Attorney General on November 13, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    November 13, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govPresident Trump’s proclamation seeks to ban immigrants who do not possess certain health insurance or the ability to pay for medical care  SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum led a coalition of 22 attorneys general in support of Doe, et al. v. Trump, et al., a lawsuit filed to challenge the Trump Administration’s Health Insurance Proclamation to bar entry for immigrants who do not possess certain health coverage or the ability to pay for medical care. In an amicus brief, the coalition asserts the Proclamation is an unlawful attempt to impose immigration restrictions that contradict laws passed by Congress, including the Affordable Care Act. Under this new requirement, a significant number of applicants who would normally qualify for immigration status would no longer be eligible. Further, the coalition argues that adding this requirement would result in the separation of immigrant families.  “The Trump Administration is attempting to bypass the Constitution in another attempt to limit immigration and separate families,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Hard-working immigrant families are significant contributors to California’s economy, which is now the fifth largest in the world. Implementing this wrong-headed proclamation would cause irreparable harm to California’s communities, our healthcare market, and vulnerable immigrant families across our state and throughout the country.” In the brief, the coalition argues that the proclamation violates Congress’ public charge statutes by adding an entry condition that Congress did not choose to include. The coalition also argues that this condition would conflict with Congress’ visa statutes dedicated to family reunification and workforce development. Additionally, it would conflict with the Diversity Visa laws established by Congress for immigrants from countries with low numbers of immigrants to the United States. The proclamation would affect immigration applications for immigrants who are typically eligible for visas. Attorney General Becerra is dedicated to defending the rights of hard-working immigrants. On October 11, 2019, Attorney General Becerra led four attorneys general in securing a preliminary injunction that blocks the Trump Administration’s public charge rule. This rule was an attempt to discourage eligible immigrants and their families from accessing critical health, nutrition and housing programs. Earlier this year, Attorney General Becerra opposed the Trump Administration’s illegal attempt to limit access to the asylum process.  In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Becerra and Attorney General Rosenblum are leading a coalition including the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. New York City also joined the amicus brief. A copy of the filed brief can be found here.

  • California Attorney General Joins Bipartisan Multistate Coalition Urging Congress to Pass the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act
    by Office of the Attorney General on November 13, 2019 at 2:10 am

    November 13, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govSACRAMENTO—Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with a bipartisan coalition of 44 state attorneys general, is urging Congress to further support Veteran Treatment Courts by passing the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019. Veteran Treatment Courts are diversionary court processes, similar to drug and mental health courts, used for minor, non-violent offenses. These courts pair veterans with mentors to address substance abuse and mental health issues and assist veterans with obtaining United States Veterans Administration benefits that can help them with treatment and employment. There are currently over 450 Veteran Treatment Courts in 40 states and territories. “Veterans put their lives on the line in service of our country, it is only right that we do all we can to repay their selfless service,” said Attorney General Becerra. “That’s why I am joining my colleagues from around the nation calling on Congress to pass the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019. Providing veterans with the services and benefits they need to thrive is the very least we can do for those who bravely served.”   In a letter to Senate leaders, Attorney General Becerra and 43 other attorneys general wrote to encourage the passage of House Resolution 886, the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019. House Resolution 886 would establish a Veteran Treatment Court Program in the United States Department of Justice to provide grants and technical assistance to state, local and tribal courts that implement Veteran Treatment Courts. To read the full letter, click here. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody sponsored the letter. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas co-sponsored the letter. The Attorneys General from the following states and territories signed the letter: Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.     

  • Attorney General Becerra Demands Information from Department of Education on Relief Owed to Students Defrauded by ITT Tech
    by Office of the Attorney General on November 13, 2019 at 1:32 am

    November 13, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govSACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as part of a bipartisan coalition of 22 attorneys general, today sent a letter requesting information from the Department of Education (Department) on the status of student loan relief for former students of the now-closed ITT Tech schools. ITT Tech abruptly closed in 2016, leaving students worse off than when they enrolled – stuck with debt and no diploma. Under federal law, the Department is required to automatically discharge the federal student loans of borrowers, like the former ITT Tech students, whose schools closed and who did not continue their education elsewhere. However, as of May 16, 2019, out of the more than 52,000 former ITT Tech students eligible for borrower relief, reportedly only a small fraction had received a discharge. “Secretary DeVos has an abysmal record when it comes to providing students with the help they need,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Today we are demanding answers. Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education must review and approve relief for students defrauded by ITT Tech.” In the letter, the attorneys general ask the Department to provide states with: Clarification on whether all eligible ITT Tech students are now receiving the automatic discharges to which they are entitled; Sufficient information to confirm that deserving ITT Tech students have not been excluded from the program; Details about the Department’s decision-making process on whether the Department would extend the student eligibility period past 120 days before ITT Tech’s closure; and Data on the number of ITT Tech borrowers who filed for, were granted, were denied, or were determined ineligible for closed-school discharges. The coalition urges the Department to be transparent with borrowers about the discharge process and to provide borrowers determined ineligible with prompt explanation regarding their eligibility determinations. Furthermore, the attorneys general request the Department give borrowers information regarding what portion of their loans are being discharged and provide the borrower with sufficient reasoning if the borrower did not receive full relief. Attorney General Becerra joined with the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Kentucky, Oregon, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington in sending the letter. A copy of the letter can be found here. Attorney General Becerra has been steadfast in protecting students and their right to student loan relief. In December 2017, the office filed a lawsuit against the Department and Secretary DeVos, for refusing to process debt relief claims submitted by tens of thousands of students who took out federal student loans to attend Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (Corinthian). Students became eligible to apply for this relief after the courts found that Corinthian defrauded these students in violation of California consumer protection laws. In addition, on June 2018, Attorney General Becerra secured $67 million in relief for these students in a settlement with Balboa Student Loan Trust. Attorney General Becerra successfully defended the Borrower Defense rule in a multistate lawsuit, securing a district court order in October 2018 ruling that the Department’s attempt to delay the rule was unlawful. In October 2019, Attorney General Becerra called on Department of Education Secretary DeVos to fully discharge student loan borrowers who were defrauded by schools operated by Dream Center Education Holding LLC (The Dream Center). In May 2019, Attorney General Becerra urged the Department to discharge the student loans of tens of thousands of veterans who were disabled as part of their service. Attorney General Becerra has also filed multiple lawsuits to hold accountable for-profit schools and student loan servicers. In 2017, Attorney General Becerra sued Ashford University, another for-profit school, and its parent company Bridgepoint Education for unlawful activity against its students; that lawsuit is pending in San Diego Superior Court. In 2018, he sued Navient Corporation and its subsidiaries, Pioneer and General Revenue Corporation, for misconduct in the servicing and collection of federal student loans.

  • Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition Urging Trump Administration to Withdraw Department of State’s Public Charge Rule
    by Office of the Attorney General on November 12, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    November 12, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govIn addition to being unlawful, this rule will harm working immigrant families and in turn harm California SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a coalition of six attorneys general in filing a comment letter opposing the Trump Administration’s interim final rule, which allows State Department consular officers to deny visa applications based on having a low income or using publicly-funded programs, among other factors. In today’s comment letter, the attorneys general emphasize that the rule’s drastic departure from longstanding limits in the public charge doctrine is contrary to law and will harm important state interests. The rule will curtail legal immigration to California and discourage eligible immigrants from accessing important health, nutrition, and housing programs. “It’s a new week and the Trump Administration is at it again – pushing harmful rhetoric against immigrants and communities of color,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This reckless interim rule preys on vulnerable communities by weaponizing publicly-funded programs built to help our California families flourish. We will continue to advocate for our communities and families and fight this thoughtless rule every step of the way.” The coalition of attorneys general strongly urge the U.S. State Department to withdraw the interim final rule, which is based on a Department of Homeland Security rule that has been enjoined by five federal court judges. These rules are based on discrimination rather than reason and as such, violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The State Department rule negatively impacts individuals applying for a visa from abroad and the family members or employers in the U.S. that petition for them to come here. It also affects individuals currently residing in the United States without authorization who become eligible for a visa. The interim final rule would use public benefits, lower incomes, and a host of other factors not previously relied upon to deny visas. That would negatively harm California because it will: Discourage hardworking immigrants from using public benefits to prosper and provide for their families. Negatively affect the state’s administration of benefits by undermining California’s public health, nutrition, and housing initiatives. Immigrants declining to enroll or un-enrolling from public benefits causes a number of public health harms—to themselves, their families, their communities, and the nation. Poor health outcomes, lack of nutrition, and housing instability are all potential consequences of this rule. Harm California’s economy by deterring employment-based visa applicants from accepting work in California, to the detriment of California’s agriculture and technology sectors. Prevent family reunification. The State Department’s 2018 expansion of public charge led to increased denials of family-based visa applicants - from 897 denials in 2015 to over 13,000 denials in 2018. Attorney General Becerra has challenged the expansion of the public charge rule at every possible opportunity. On October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security issued a proposed rule that would significantly change the grounds for excluding immigrants under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Attorney General Becerra challenged and successfully blocked the implementation of the rule. Further, in March 2019, Attorney General Becerra led a coalition of attorneys general supporting the City of Baltimore’s challenge to the Trump Administration’s abrupt changes to the longstanding Foreign Affairs Manual guidance. Attorney General Becerra will continue to defend immigrants’ rights to use public benefits and denounce public charge doctrines that undermine California’s wellbeing. Joining Attorney General Becerra in filing the comment letter are the attorneys general of New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and the District of Columbia. A copy of the comment letter can be found here.

  • Attorney General Becerra Joins Multistate Effort to Examine Potential Harms of Mandatory Arbitration Provisions on Low-Wage Workers
    by Office of the Attorney General on November 12, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    November 12, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govSACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced an effort to obtain more information on the policies, practices, and procedures of arbitration companies as part of a multistate initiative to examine the potential harms of employer-mandated arbitration agreements on low-wage workers. Arbitration agreements require an employee seeking to remedy a workplace complaint through legal action to submit to the decision of an extrajudicial arbitrator, typically selected by the employer. In letters to arbitration companies, the attorneys general highlight concerns that arbitration agreements may, in practice, negatively affect low-wage workers and unreasonably favor employers and large companies in the resolution of work-related claims. “Companies shouldn’t be able to sweep worker complaints under the rug,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Arbitration only makes sense when it actually offers an efficient and equitable opportunity to help settle legitimate employee claims. We’re asking arbitration providers to be transparent about the outcomes of their work. With better information, everyone can do more to support workers in our state and nation.” In the letters, the attorneys general raise several issues around employer-mandated arbitration that can result in companies failing to make good on worker claims. For example, there are instances where employers purportedly exhibit a practice of failing to pay filing fees to initiate an arbitration process they themselves mandated, effectively halting any opportunity to resolve worker claims. In other cases, workers reportedly allege employment status misclassification and, as a result, arbitration providers have subjected them to fee schedules typically reserved for commercial entities, making the process overly burdensome for individual employees. The coalition’s concerns are particularly troublesome given that more than 60 percent of workers who make less than $13 an hour on average have contracts that mandate arbitration. With thousands of cases being handled by arbitration providers annually, low-wage workers are among the most likely to be subjected to a process that may hinder their ability to access justice. Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting the rights of workers in California and across the country. He has also consistently expressed concern about binding arbitration agreements. In 2018, the Attorney General called on Congress to pass legislation that would prohibit employers from mandating arbitration to resolve workplace sexual harassment claims. In 2017, Attorney General Becerra urged the U.S. Senate to support a rule that protects consumers from being forced to resolve complaints against a company through costly arbitration proceedings after signing up for a service like a bank account or credit card. More recently, the California Department of Justice, as part of a multistate effort, entered into agreements with major fast food companies operating around the country, prohibiting them from including provisions in contracts that make it more difficult for employees to seek better pay and benefits at competing franchises. In sending the letters, Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington. Copies of the letters are available here and here.

  • Attorney General Becerra Issues Statement on Fight for Dreamers Before U.S. Supreme Court
    by Office of the Attorney General on November 12, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    November 12, 2019Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.govWASHINGTON, D.C. – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today issued a statement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy following oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. The California Department of Justice is leading a coalition of 21 attorney general in defense of the policy. Ending DACA would put the lives of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers and their families at risk, including the nearly 200,000 DACA recipients living in California alone. “Today, we stood up for American values, the rule of law, and America’s Dreamers,” said Attorney General Becerra. “You learn from a very early age that there is a right way and there is a wrong way to do things. The federal government tried to terminate DACA the wrong way. Today, we stand here very proud of the arguments that were made on behalf of the 700,000 DACA recipients. We’re here to stand up for the right way to do things. Together, we’re here to say DACA is legal and an American success story.” Since 2012, more than 900,000 young immigrants who were brought to this country as children have been granted DACA protections after completing applications and submitting to and passing a background check. Dreamers come from almost every country in the world, but many have never known any home other than the United States. Dreamers are among our newest college graduates, soldiers, nurses, teachers, and first responders who are boosting the economies and communities of our country every day. DACA recipients are estimated to contribute nearly $9 billion in federal, state, and local taxes each year. Currently, there are nearly 700,000 active DACA recipients, more than a quarter of whom reside in California. Attorney General Becerra has been a stalwart defender of DACA and has worked at every step to protect the rights of Dreamers living in the United States. Last week, Attorney General Becerra and individual Dreamers held a powerful press conference in defense of DACA ahead of oral arguments in the Supreme Court. In September, Attorney General Becerra led a coalition of states in filing a response to the federal government’s opening brief in the consolidated DACA cases currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. In October, the Attorney General announced that more than half a million Dreamers have been able to renew their DACA protections as a result of a preliminary injunction obtained by California and others. Last year, Attorney General Becerra led a multistate coalition in supporting a lawsuit to protect Dreamers from unlawful termination of their individual protections. In 2017, following the Trump Administration’s decision to illegally rescind DACA, Attorney General Becerra led a multistate lawsuit in defense of the policy. California today fought in court on behalf of the attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. More information on the collective efforts to defend DACA is available here: https://oag.ca.gov/daca.

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