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L.A. County Moves Forward On Immigrant Protection Plan

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Supporters of the motion at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting. (Photo courtesy of Hilda Solis)
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On Tuesday, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors moved forward on a plan to protect the data and identities of the county's immigrant communities who may be adversely affected by potential changes to federal immigration policy, and to begin establishing a countywide office of immigrant affairs. Supervisor Hilda Solis introduced the motion in reaction to President-elect Donald Trump's batshit crazy racist and xenophobic rhetoric proposed immigration policies.

"Many of the election promises made by President-Elect Donald Trump during his campaign would, if enacted, have devastating consequences for Los Angeles County—not just for immigrant communities, but for our entire economy, safety net, and sense of community," Solis wrote in the motion.

Los Angeles County is home to more than 3 million immigrant residents, according to the motion. Nearly half of those residents are citizens; the remainder includes legal permanent residents, refugees granted asylum, immigrants granted temporary relief under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and undocumented immigrants.

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"People are terrified," Supervisor Solis, who previously served as United States Secretary of Labor from 2009 to 2013, told LAist. Solis's office has been responding to distraught calls from immigrant constituents terrified by what the future may hold for them in Donald Trump's America.

The motion passed 4-0 (Supervisor Kathryn Barger abstained). According to Supervisor Solis's office, letters of support were received from 31 elected officials, eight members of the California Congressional Delegation and 54 community organizations. The Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration was packed with supporters of the motion and more than 170 people signed up to offer public comment, with testimony stretching on for almost three hours.

Along with co-author Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Solis has been pushing for a game plan of sorts to make sure our county's residents are protected come January 20, regardless of their legal status.

The motion passed today will do a number of things to try and get that plan in place. The motion directs a variety of county agencies to do their own analysis and report back in 45 days on the potential impacts that new immigration policies could have on the people they serve, and to come up with recommendations for addressing those impacts. It also calls for the county to immediately convert their existing DACA Task Force into a County Immigrant Protection Task Force, which would be responsible for developing and recommending strategies for protecting immigrants, and to report back in 45 days on the feasibility of creating a more permanent countywide office or department of immigrant affairs.

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The county will also be tasked with analyzing what the potential funding impacts to the county would look like if Trump follows through on his threats to cut funding to so-called "sanctuary cities" (or, in this case, counties).

"President-elect Trump has said that he wants to cut our budgets if we somehow 'harbor,' or we act as a sanctuary county or city," Solis told LAist over the phone on Friday. "Well, that raises a lot of questions—because how are you going to then have children that receive free lunch now identify themselves if they are here legally or not? We don't allow that in our public schools," Solis said. "And if you deny health care, what if someone gets into a car accident?" she asked. "They're not going to be treated because they're out of legal status? That's ridiculous. That's so inhumane."

Solis, who in 2015 launched a countywide effort to support the DACA implementation, also voiced great concern about any potential reversal of the DACA program.

"These [DACA] individuals are playing by the rules," Solis told LAist. "They are either enrolled in college, or they're in the military or they're working. They're contributing, and you can't be in this program if you have, say, an egregious criminal background. These are the stellar individuals in our society, and we should be helping them," she said.

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If Trump follows through on his threats to repeal DACA, not only could almost a half a million county residents previously eligible for protection potentially face removal, but the data they supplied on their applications could be used by federal authorities to target them or their families.

"Right before Thanksgiving, six or seven of our local high schools from my district walked out [of classes in protest]," Solis said. "They were peaceful. These kids were concerned about having their parents deported and their families ripped apart. And who's giving them any indication that that's not going to happen?" she asked.

"We have to protect ourselves. That's what this motion is about," Solis said.

Related: The L.A. County Board Of Supervisors Now Has A Female Supermajority