LA County Favors Non-Citizens in New Ruling over Government Jobs

Last week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to allow non-citizens to work in government positions – with the proviso that the position does not conflict with state or federal law.

Authored by Chair Hilda l. Solis and co-authored by Sheila Kuehl, the policy allegedly aims to better represent the “community” in city government.

Los Angeles County is a community of immigrants from each corner of the world,” said Solis in a statement. “And while our County-government workforce reflects the community it represents, there is room for improvement. This motion seeks to make clear that the County, as one of the largest employers in the region, strives to be an inclusive and diverse workforce, and is committed to not excluding nor allowing citizenship to be a barrier to employment.”

As of 2018, an estimated 880,000 non-citizens lived in the County, many of them there legally.

The motion directs County Counsel, in consultation with the Department of Human Resources and the Chief Executive Office, to report back within 14 days with an analysis of the Board’s authority to waive any citizenship requirement for Board-appointed County officers or Department Heads, unless a citizenship requirement is imposed by state law, and to direct County Officers to waive any citizenship requirement for employees they have or will appoint, unless state law explicitly imposes a citizenship requirement; as well as the effects of a Government Code section 24001 waiver for Board-appointed County office(s) and their employees/appointed deputies, and the method(s) to accomplish such a waiver. In addition, the motions directs the Chief Executive Office’s Legislative Affairs, in consultation with County Counsel and the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs’ Office of Immigrant Affairs, to seek legislative changes to amend the California Government Code to either eliminate, or grant local entities the authority to eliminate, the citizenship requirement for Disaster Service Workers.

The move has not gone without criticism. The authors of the bill don’t say anything about the massive benefits that accompany a government job, including healthcare and pensions. Surely, these are taxpayer awards that require some monitoring before they are repatriated to other countries? But what about American workers? There is a 4.5% unemployment rate in LA County. Are we confident that every American who desires a job has one? And if these non-citizens are so desirable as participants in the workforce why doesn’t California force the Administration to speed up its citizenship program?