LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis that will enhance the County’s efforts to recruit relatives and family friends who can serve as caregivers for children whose parents are in the custody of ICE agents. Representing 35 percent of Los Angeles County’s population, many foreign-born immigrants belong to mixed-status families where some relatives are U.S. citizens. Although immigrant children make up 7 percent of the County’s population, 58 percent have at least one immigrant parent. About 70 percent of undocumented Latinos share a home with at least one U.S. citizen, and 34 percent of them live with their U.S.-born children. Today’s motion will expand efforts to help ensure that families plan ahead and make custody arrangements for their children in the event of enforcement activities carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“Targeting undocumented immigrants for removal rips an entire family apart. Forcibly separating a child from their parents’ loving and nurturing embrace is inhumane and traumatic for the entire family. Children and their families experiencing this type of ordeal suffer from lifelong emotional wounds,” said Supervisor Solis. “If a parent is detained by federal immigration agents, LA County will do everything in its power to ensure that no child – regardless of immigration status – will be left alone or abandoned. It is our moral responsibility to take every action possible to protect these defenseless children, many of whom are U.S. citizens.”
Relatives and family friends can apply to the County’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to become caregivers for children whose parents have been detained by ICE agents if the children are in the foster care system. Immigration status will not prevent an individual from serving as a caregiver, also known as ‘resource families.’ Resource families will also be informed that they are eligible to receive financial support to help provide for the child or children in their care.
“Bet Tzedek applauds Supervisor Hilda Solis for her vision and leadership in bringing this motion. We are proud protectors of the rights of undocumented immigrants,” said Diego Cartagena, VP of Legal Programs at Bet Tzedek Legal Services. “This reflects our Jewish history and traditions, which teaches us to welcome all immigrants as we pursue justice. Supervisor Solis’ motion exemplifies this ideal by helping marshal critical County resources on behalf of immigrant families.”
Today’s motion directs DCFS, in consultation with County Counsel, LA County’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA), and community stakeholders to create and implement within seven days a plan that includes comprehensive and targeted outreach to recruit County residents, regardless of their immigration status, to serve as caregivers for affected children. This targeted outreach must also offer tangible support for these caregivers and families to ensure successful foster care placement, and it also must incorporate immigrant ‘Known Your Rights’ information in its training so that these caregivers can serve as resource parents if or when appropriate.
This plan must further include a description of how DCFS will help non-citizen children and their families, including biological parents, who have been affected by ICE enforcement. A written report back on the plan and its implementation must be completed in 30 days.
Today’s action also directs LA County’s Chief Executive Officer, with County Counsel and OIA, to ensure that all County Departments providing emergency response services enhance their outreach efforts so that residents are able to continue communicating with these Departments and accessing County services without fear that the County will cooperate with immigration officials. The motion instructs that all County Departments are reminded of the County’s continued noncooperation with ICE unless required by law. A second written report back on the above directives will be completed in 30 days.