Jury duty long has been held up as a privilege of U.S. citizenship, along with voting and a few other civic actions.
But in move that is drawing controversy, California is considering extending the right to serve on a jury to legal immigrants who are not naturalized citizens. The California Assembly passed a bill on Thursday that would allow non-citizens who are in the country legally to serve on jury duty.
Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, a Democrat, sponsored the bill, arguing that the state needs to broaden the pool of eligible jurors, and that fulfilling jury duty would help integrate immigrants.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, the branch that deals with naturalization, said that only U.S. citizens may serve on federal juries, but that some local jurisdictions in the nation allow non-citizens to be jurors. The same is true of voting, which at the federal level requires citizenship.
Immigration advocacy groups lauded California’s move.