The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create an Office of Immigrant Affairs to aid the 3.5 million immigrants (including hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants) living in LA County. The creation of the new office is one of several steps the board has taken to protect the county’s immigrant population in the event that President-elect Donald Trump follows through with his promised mass deportations.
“As we head into inauguration, I want to remind our communities that the county will continue to stand against hate and provide exceptional aid for our immigrant individuals,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis, who proposed the motion with Supe. Sheila Kuehl. “This is one of the many steps we are taking towards protecting the immigrant communities that are so essential to Los Angeles County.”
The Supes approved the motion 4-1. Supervisor Kathryn Barger voted against the creation of the office.
The multi-lingual office would work as a “one-stop-shop” for immigrants and their families to connect to county services and access legal help for deportation cases. In December, LA County and city officials announced $10 million in funds earmarked to ensure that immigrants facing deportation have legal representation.
The Supes also voted in December to convert the County Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Task Force into an Immigrant Protection Task Force and requested an analysis of the feasibility of creating the Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Tuesday’s motion directs the Civilian Oversight Commission to oversee the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s compliance with immigration policies and state law.
“Today LA County is reasserting its commitment to upholding the federal and state constitutions for all our residents and ensuring that every resident is provided with adequate legal defense and that the County will not be forced to collaborate in federal immigration enforcement,” Supe. Kuehl said.
At the board meeting, LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell stressed that the department’s job is not to enforce immigration, and that immigrants should feel safe reporting crimes and otherwise engaging with law enforcement without the fear of deportation.
“Here is what I want all communities to know: my deputies will not initiate any police activity, nor arrest anyone, based solely on their immigration status,” McDonnell said at Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s our promise. It’s written in our department policy, and it’s the law.” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has also said the city’s police force would not help Trump deport undocumented immigrants.
A detailed plan for the new office, which will be within the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, is expected later this year.