LOS ANGELES, CA – On September 22, 2018, in the latest attack on our country’s immigrant population and the general public, the Trump Administration announced a proposed change to the ‘public charge’ rule that would expand the definition of public benefits. The rule would allow federal officials to consider the use of non-cash benefits, such as nutrition assistance, housing subsidies, and healthcare programs, in preventing an individual from adjusting their immigration status. In response, today the Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, to develop a comprehensive countywide response to combat this new proposal.

“Los Angeles County provides the ultimate safety net for children and families, and we must take action and do everything possible to oppose and stop this proposed rule from being enacted,” said Supervisor Solis. “The proposed rule will have, and was designed to have, a wide-reaching chilling effect on enrollment in essential public benefits, resulting in drastic, negative impacts on the health, safety, and well-being of our residents. We have a moral and civic responsibility to every one of our residents, regardless of immigration status, to deliver important public services and benefits that improve their quality of life. I encourage everyone to provide public comment and reject this proposal.”

“LA County has always encouraged people who are sick to come to County clinics and hospitals, to apply for food stamps if it will help them feed their children, and to sign up for affordable housing to keep a roof over their head if they can’t afford market rate housing and would face homelessness instead,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, chair of the LA County Board of Supervisors. “Now the Federal government has proposed an extremely detrimental rule that would force hundreds of thousands of immigrants across the country, including many in Los Angeles, to choose between accessing the services they need for survival and obtaining a green card. Imagine a mother having to choose not to take her baby to a doctor today because it will cause her to forfeit her chance at obtaining a green card tomorrow. Imagine a father who has to weigh which is more important, feeding his children today or securing his green card tomorrow.”

Supervisor Solis’ motion directs a 5-signature letter to be sent to the Department of Homeland Security and congressional members to declare the Board of Supervisors’ opposition to the proposed rule, and express the significant harm it would cause to LA County and its residents. Another 5-signature letter would be sent to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra expressing support for the State of California’s continued efforts to protect all residents, regardless of immigration status, by taking all necessary actions challenging the proposed rule.

The motion further directs County Counsel to draft a comprehensive County response that would be submitted during the public comment period, and present recommendations to the Board to file and/or join in as amicus or plaintiff in litigation aimed at challenging the proposed rule. The motion also calls upon the County’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to collaborate with community-based organizations to educate immigrant communities about available County services, and provide referrals to advocates and legal clinics that could advise immigrants about the potential impacts of the proposed rule on their own individual situation. Finally, LA County CEO Countywide Communications is directed to design and execute a comprehensive internal and external communications strategy. The internal strategy will be unique to each department and be consistent within each department. The external strategy will be a multilingual and culturally competent public information and outreach campaign.

“The proposed rule would likely lead to large decreases in participation in health care services among legal immigrant families, including some of our most vulnerable residents, infants and children. Nationwide, one in four children live in a family with an immigrant parent, and fear of accessing health care services would negatively affect the growth and healthy development of these children,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “This fear will also result in an increase in the number of people who are not immunized against flu and other communicable diseases that are easily transmitted among the general public, increasing the risk of disease outbreaks. Our health care system is meant to serve everyone in order to most effectively protect the public’s health.”

“The proposed changes to public charge are a drastic departure from existing guidelines, and may have a sweeping impact on immigrant families and their children served by the Department of Public Social Services,” said Antonia Jiménez, Director of the LA County Department of Public Social Services. “Without CalFresh, some legal immigrants may become food insecure overnight – they won’t have enough money to pay their bills and buy food for themselves and their families. Immigrants also receiving Medi-Cal health might forego access to routine and other medical services, including hospitalization, vision, dental, prescription drugs, and other preventive services.”

Public comment will open on the date the proposed rule is officially published in the Federal Register, triggering a 60-day comment period when the County and the public may submit comments by going online to www.regulations.gov.

Today’s action marks the 30th immigration motion Supervisor Solis has authored to protect, defend, and fight for the rights of immigrants since the 2016 presidential election. Her efforts include a motion to create sensitive locations throughout the County, a $3 million dollar contribution to the LA Justice Fund, and the creation of the first-ever County Office of Immigrant Affairs. To view a complete list of these actions, please click here.

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Michael Kapp, Communications Director, (213) 974-4111 or mkapp@bos.lacounty.gov