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State Can’t Force Landlords to Confirm Tenant Immigration Status

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Cities and counties in California cannot force landlords to check their tenants' immigration status. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill late Wednesday in response to ordinances passed by a handful of communities across the country and state, including Escondido. KPBS reporter Amy Isackson has more.

The measures, like the one in Escondido, sought to prevent landlords from renting to illegal immigrants.

Property owners who failed to check immigration status could be fined and possibly jailed.

Roy Garrett is a landlord in Escondido who sued the City last year on grounds its ordinance was unconstitutional.

Garrett : This frees us from the threat of cities using us as their private police forces without giving us authority, guidance, legal indemnity and just making us their private Gestapo. And I think it will also force the federal government to take a more active hand in comprehensive immigration reform. At least I hope so.

Escondido's City Council eventually repealed its measure.

However, Assemblyman Charles Calderon decided a state law was needed to prevent other cities from passing similar ones.

Federal courts have struck down all similar ordinances.

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