LA County officials headed to DC to push for immigrant rights, help with homelessness

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis is among a delegation of local leaders headed to Washington D.C. this week to advocate for issues that impact L.A.
L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis is among a delegation of local leaders headed to Washington D.C. this week to advocate for issues that impact L.A.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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Members of L.A. County's Board of Supervisors are headed to Washington D.C. on Monday to advocate for health care, immigrant rights and social services, among other priorities.

The supervisors' annual trip to the nation's capital comes as officials in the largest county in the nation are looking to aid opposition to some of President Donald Trump's key policy points. Namely, a crackdown on people who are in the country illegally and proposed cuts to social service departments that could hurt L.A.'s efforts to alleviate homelessness and poverty.

"We can share our expertise, what we know," said Supervisor Hilda Solis, one of four supervisors expected to make the trip. "It's also letting them know we have their back in whatever way we can, and that we need them when our program is on the chopping block."

Local officials can be particularly helpful sharing details of how federal policies impact people on the ground in Los Angeles, she said. 

Solis spent over a decade in Washington D.C., first as a member of the House of Representatives and then Secretary of Labor under former President Barack Obama. She said the board has, among others, potential meetings with California's two U.S. senators, Kamala Harris and Diane Feinstein, both Democrats, as well as Congressman and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican who represents the Bakersfield area. 

"It's good to keep that engagement," Solis said.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said some of his priorities will be talking about homelessness, the Affordable Care Act, and other social service programs. 

Supervisor Karthyn Barger, also slated to travel, said in an email she plans to advocate  for "transportation, public safety, and healthcare.”

Solis is planning to focus on legal defense for immigrants, as well as protections for individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Proposed cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services, led by Secretary Ben Carson will also be a major discussion topic, she said, as such cuts could hurt L.A.'s recent push to tackle homelessness.

"Here we are taking it upon ourselves to address the issue of homelessness and affordability, and we're seeing the new Secretary of HUD has already come out with statements that they want to reduce vouchers, public housing, and be increasingly punitive to people who really do need that assistance," Solis said. 

Any cuts would have to be approved by Congress. Meeting with House members, Solis said, will give supervisors a good idea of what to expect when it comes to the final budget.

Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn are also expected to travel to D.C. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl has opted instead to visit with state leaders in Sacramento. 

"A lot of our funding comes from the state and federal governments," said Kuehl, who spent over a decade in the California legislature. And a lot of proposals on the agenda right now at the state, including the budget, will ultimately have a major impact on L.A., she said.

Her priorities the coming week will be various foster care proposals, funding for in-home supportive services, and the overall budget.

"I'm sure they'll also have things they want to talk about," Kuelh said. "The state sets a budget, it sets policy, but ultimately we're the ones who deliver the services."