Now, illegal immigrants injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits despite their legal status.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled in a case against Farmer Bros. Co., which had attempted to deny workers’ comp benefits to an employee who was in the country illegally.

The plaintiff, Rafael Ruiz, 35, claimed he injured his shoulders, back, neck and hands by repeatedly lifting heavy sacks of coffee beans.

Although Farmers Bros. argued that federal immigration laws superseded the state’s workers’ compensation system, which provides medical care and disability benefits to injured employees, the court disagreed.

Held the Court unanimously: “California law has expressly declared immigration status irrelevant to the issue of liability to pay compensation to an injured worker.”

Andy Ramirez, a spokesman for Friends of the Border Patrol, a Covina-based group that sends members to patrol the U.S. border with Mexico, stated: “We can’t reward people for breaking the law.”

The state Department of Finance estimates that 2.6 million illegal immigrants live in California.

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