Published On: Sun, Sep 15th, 2013

California moves ahead with bill to allow ‘non-citizens’ on juries

A border enforcement advocacy organization says California is trying to “devalue the meaning of citizenship” as a bill moves forward which would allow legal permanent residents to serve as jurors and poll workers.

photo Fibonacci Blue via Flickr

photo Fibonacci Blue via Flickr

Recently the California Legislature passed AB 1401, a bill that will allow legal permanent residents of California to serve as jurors. The bill passed by a vote along party lines of 48 to 28.

“Anything the California legislature can do to devalue the meaning of citizenship, they will go ahead and do,” says Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform or FAIR.

The Los Angeles Times reports that more than three million legal permanent residents in California would be eligible for jury duty under AB 1401.

Immigrants “are part of the fabric of our community,” Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) said during the floor debate on the bill. “They benefit from the protections of our laws, so it is fair and just that they be asked to share in the obligation to do jury duty.”

“I’m not sure anyone who is a citizen really looks forward to doing jury duty,” says Mehlman. “But nevertheless this is an important responsibility of being a citizen of the United States. It ought to be reserved for people who citizens of this country.”

“I do think there is something called the jury of your peers,” countered Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside). “Peers are people who understand the nuances of America.”

He noted that some immigrants come from countries where suspects are guilty until proven innocent and where people are taught to obey authority, not question it.

The bill, AB 1401, was authored by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which seeks a way to expand the pool of eligible jurors in California.


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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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