With the current political climate in the U.S., it is becoming more important for states to protect immigrant and minority populations from harassment and discrimination. That is why California Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), along with other California leaders, announced AB 291, known as the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act of 2017. This bill, if made into law, would offer protections for immigrants from landlords who would have the power to disclose the tenant’s legal immigration status to the authorities. Under the law, landlords would not have the right to disclose this information for any reason or threaten to do so.
Why Legislators Feel AB 291 is Necessary
Current law bars landlords from asking about a tenant’s immigration status. There are also laws to protect tenants from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation by their landlords. However, these statutes do not stop landlords from assuming a person’s status based on his or her race, country of origin, religion, spoken language, or more. Legislators realize in the current climate, questionable landlords could use a person’s undocumented immigration status as leverage against the tenant. Immigrants are particularly at risk for intimidation and retaliation based on their legal status. Landlords may use or threaten to use this information to get tenants to vacate the premises or pay more rent. That is why a bill specifically addressing this issue has been introduced.