LA County votes to set up its own immigrant affairs office

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Los Angeles County supervisors approved creation of an Office of Immigrant Affairs that would coordinate and streamline access to countywide services for immigrants.

The motion to approve the office passed on a 4 to 1 vote and was sponsored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl. Last month, the two supervisors co-authored a related motion seeking protection for immigrants under an incoming Donald Trump administration.

It's one of the latest moves by the county board to respond to Trump's campaign promise to enact strict policies against immigrants living illegally in the country and refugees.

Solis' spokeswoman, Jessie Gomez, said the immigrant affairs office would provide referrals to services, including legal counsel. A proposed budget and staffing for the office won't be determined until April, she said, but the goal is to get the office up and running by the end of the calendar year.

Plans are to house the office within the county's Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.

Kathryn Barger, a Republican elected last year to the county board representing the 5th District, cast the lone dissenting vote. Barger also dissented on a recent vote to to earmark $3 million in county money over two years for a fund to help pay for immigrants' legal aid.

Barger’s spokesman Tony Bell said she disagreed with the immigrant affairs office in part because she didn’t think it necessary. But he also said "she believes that the issue of immigration needs to be addressed by the federal government and not the county.”

The supervisors also requested that the county's Civilian Oversight Commission keep tabs on how the Sheriff's Department adheres to policies pertaining to immigrants.

The City of Los Angeles already has a Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, established in 2013 to promote immigrant integration. 

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