Sept. 27 (UPI) -- California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday vetoed a bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to serve on state and local boards.
Under the proposed legislation, any California resident above the age of 18, regardless of citizenship, would have been eligible to serve on hundreds of boards and commissions throughout the state and influence policy and influence various areas, including farm labor and employment development, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"This bill would open up all boards and commissions to non-citizens," Brown wrote in his veto message. "I believe existing law -- which requires citizenship for these forms of public service -- is the better path."
Democratic State Sen. Ricardo Lara, one of the lawmakers who introduced SB 174, said the bill updated an 1872 law that discriminated against Chinese immigrants to ensure they couldn't hold any public office in the state. And by correcting that law, the state would be better able to serve diverse communities, the Sacramento Bee reported.
In a statement, Lara said he hopes the barrier from allowing undocumented immigrants from holding state positions will "eventually fall."
"If people have earned the opportunity to serve through their experience and talents, we should invite them to the table," Lara said. "There was a time when Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, African Americans, and Catholics were prevented from serving, and California cleared away those barriers."