Immigration & Justice

Local and State Leaders Respond to End of DACA With Outreach, Letters, and Millions of Dollars for Legal Services

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of several motions on Tuesday that will step up the county’s support of immigrants threatened by the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA allows undocumented young people who entered the US as children to receive two-year renewable protections from deportation, as well as work permits.

The first motion directs the Office of Immigration Affairs to conduct outreach to the state’s DACA recipients to help them renew their status before October 5, as well as to keep LA County residents informed of their legal rights.

The motion, which was introduced by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn, also directs the LA County CEO Sachi Hamai to send a 5-signature letter to the county’s Congressional Delegation, as well as leaders of the Senate and House, and President Donald Trump, regarding the “personal and practical impacts of DACA’s pending termination on LA County.” The letter will also urge legislators to come up with a solution for DACA recipients. The board will also send a letter to Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, urging the state to take action in order to protect California’s young immigrants.

“This motion that’s before us addresses DACA in LA County in as many ways as we can,” Hilda Solis said during the supervisors’ meeting.

In addition to a considerable human toll, the fiscal impacts that killing DACA without a replacement for the program would be felt across the nation.

“Ending DACA and admonishing recipients from the labor force could cost the United States $460.3 billion in GDP and decrease Social Security and Medicare contributions by $24.6 billion over the next decade,” the motion states. “Every state in the U.S. will feel the economic harms from ending DACA.”

Approximately 25 percent of the nation’s 800,000 DACA youth live in California.

The motion argues that “Los Angeles County, a virtual state in its own right, is especially susceptible” to these harms.

“Los Angeles County is home to more Dreamers than any other county in the nation,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “They are fundamental to our families, to our communities, and to our economy.” Hahn added that although the fate of DACA recipients will ultimately fall to Congress to decide, “here in LA County, we need to do everything we can for these young people.”

One of Hahn’s staffers, a young man named Carlos, said that thanks to DACA, he has been able to pursue his bachelor’s degree and work toward a career. “Being a dreamer has allowed me to find my voice within our community,” Carlos said Tuesday. “DACA has allowed dreamers to excel in school create thriving businesses, serve in our military, and start families.”

Solis and Hahn’s motion also bans county workers from traveling to states that are threatening litigation to end DACA. Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.

The supes also voted in favor of a motion to make immigration a priority in LA County. The board previously established five “Board Priorities”: Sheriff’s Department/Justice Reform, Child Protection, Health Integration, the Homeless Initiative, and Environmental Oversight and Monitoring. The motion by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl adds Immigration to the list. These six priorities are issues that the board has identified as needing “multi departmental and public-private collaboration.”

“The issues pertaining to immigration and impacting our residents require such collaboration, and can no longer wait for attention from all departments,” according to the motion. “Indeed, identifying immigration as a priority for LA County will ensure our focus on legislation, litigation, resources and services remains concentrated and consistent.”

In addition, the supervisors approved a motion by Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas to act in support of litigation that the state of California and other states file challenging the Trump Administration’s removal of the DACA program. Supervisor Kathryn Barger voted against the motion.

President Donald Trump reportedly discussed options on Wednesday with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to come to a legislative agreement that would safeguard DACA recipients from deportation.

When Trump announced the end of the DACA program, he gave Congress six months to come up with legislation to replace DACA that would protect young immigrants currently benefiting from the program.

The Dream Act, legislation introduced by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-South Carolina), would give so-called “dreamers”–undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children–a clear path to becoming citizens.

“The DREAM Act is a strong legislative solution that has allowed young immigrants to continue living their American Dream with a path to citizenship,” Supervisor Solis said on Tuesday. “Our DREAMers’ futures are in danger – and so is the future of almost 65,000 undocumented students who graduate high school every year and could have been supported through DACA.”

It’s not clear whether the bill, or any legislation that would facilitate citizenship for dreamers could make it past a Republican majority in the House and Senate, however.

The Washington Post reports that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said that if Trump and Democratic leaders really are working to come to an agreement on immigration, Trump’s “base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”

State Leaders Stand Up for Immigrant Youth

State leaders are also stepping in to protect young immigrants threatened by the end of the DACA program.

California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders announced on Tuesday that the state will provide $30 million in legal services and financial aid for the state’s DACA recipients.

“We will not let one man with xenophobic tendencies undercut years of progress we have made in California to integrate these young adults into our society and economy,” said Senate pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). “California is their home and they are our future.”

A total of $20 million will be earmarked for legal aid for youth. After that, $7 million will go to financial aid for community college students, $2 million will go toward the Dream Loan Program for California State University students, and $1 million will be set aside for University of California students.

“The new funding for DACA services we are adding to the budget will provide answers and help young Californians stay in the only country they’ve ever known. Donald Trump may love chaos,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) added. “These kids don’t deserve it.”

Photo: Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn with Staffer, Carlos, a DACA recipient

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