By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law



On July 5, 2018, Federal District Court Judge John Mendez of the Eastern District of California, struck down provisions of AB 450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (IWPA), that restricted employers from allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to access nonpublic parts of a workplace without a warrant and re-verifying employee work authorization. However, the Judge upheld AB 450's requirement that employers notify employees within 72 hours of I-9 inspections that have been conducted.

As you may recall from prior blog entries, AB 450 (IWPA) states California-based employers:

  • Are prohibited from voluntarily granting immigration enforcement agents access to any non-public areas of a worksite unless the agents present a judicial warrant;
  • Are prohibited from voluntarily allowing ICE agents to access, review, or obtain any employee records unless the agents present a Notice of Inspection (NOI) of Forms I-9, an administrative or judicial subpoena, or a judicial warrant requiring compliance;
  • Are prohibited from reverifying the employment eligibility of any current employee unless required by federal law;
  • Are required, if served with an I-9 NOI, to give notice in writing within 72 hours to each current employee at the worksite and any authorized labor union that an I-9 inspection has begun; and
  • Must notify any affected employee or authorized union representative within 72 hours of receiving any subsequent I-9 related federal notices, such as Notice of Suspect Documents.


In March 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued California alleging AB 450 and two other new state laws designed to protect certain undocumented immigrants are unconstitutional. "The provisions of state law at issue have the purpose and effect of making it more difficult for federal immigration officers to carry out their responsibilities in California," Justice Department lawyers argue in the suit, further calling the laws an "obstacle to the United States' enforcement of the immigration laws and discriminating against federal immigration enforcement."

Judge Mendez ruled against a preliminary injunction on the AB 450 Notice requirements because they are not preempted by federal authority over immigration. However, the Judge preliminarily enjoined California authorities from:

  • fining employers or otherwise enforcing the bans on reverifying the employment eligibility of current employees;
  • voluntarily giving immigration enforcement agents access to nonpublic areas of the worksite; or
  • allowing them to access, review, or obtain employee records.


In doing so, Judge Mendez requested the President and Congress to act and stated:
This Court has gone to great lengths to explain the legal grounds for its opinion. This Order hopefully will not be viewed through a political lens and this Court expresses no views on the soundness of the policies or statutes involved in this lawsuit. There is no place for politics in our judicial system and this one opinion will neither define nor solve the complicated immigration issues currently facing our Nation.

Accordingly, this Court joins the ever-growing chorus of Federal Judges in urging our elected officials to set aside the partisan and polarizing politics dominating the current immigration debate and work in a cooperative and bi-partisan fashion toward drafting and passing legislation that addresses this critical political issue. Our Nation deserves it. Our Constitution demands it.

I will keep you informed of further developments in this litigation.