L.A. County Institutes Travel Ban on DACA-Unfriendly States

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted today to fight back against the Trump administration's decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, instituting a travel ban on DACA-unfriendly states and agreeing to take legal action.

Supervisor Hilda Solis championed a one-year restriction on county government travel to nine states that threatened legal action to end the program, calling its rescission “an inhumane and ill-advised move (that) could cost the United States approximately $460 billion in GDP.''

Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia will be subject to the travel restriction, which will not apply in the case of emergency assistance for disaster relief or critical law enforcement work.

The vote was 3-1, with Supervisor Kathryn Barger dissenting and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas abstaining, though they both support DACA and voted in favor of related measures.

Solis pointed to earlier county bans related to Arizona's stance on immigration and North Carolina's law on transgender bathrooms as precedent for what she explained as a policy boycott.

The nearly 800,000 young adults nationwide affected by the administration's action -- roughly one-quarter of them live in California -- are contributing to America's economy, not taking from it, said Sonja Diaz, founding director of UCLA's Latino Policy & Politics Initiative.

“Ninety-one percent of DACA recipients are employed. DACA is a net positive for the U.S. economy'' and ending it would cost California alone $11.3 billion,'' Diaz told the board.

David Rattray, executive vice president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, promised the support of business leaders in any fight to restore the program.

Employers have invested in hiring and training so-called Dreamers and are “dumbfounded about how stupid this is, frankly,'' Rattray told the board.

Barger, the only Republican on the non-partisan board, said the county should take an aggressive, hand-on role in pressing Congressional representatives to craft new legislation.

“We need to be at the table and we need to push as hard as we can,'' Barger said. “This is bipartisan, this is about doing what is right.''

Barger has defended the administration's decision to unwind the 2012 executive order that created it. She quoted then-President Barack Obama saying that his move was “a temporary stopgap measure'' to give Congress time to act.

But she also expressed frustration with the lack of legislative action.

“Congress needs to get to work, they've had over five years to do it,'' Barger said. “If Congress does not act in six months, shame on them.''

Ridley-Thomas proposed having county lawyers file “friend of the court'' briefs in support of several states suing the Trump administration in opposition to the phase-out, saying it was time for local government to step up.

DACA recipients are entitled, Ridley-Thomas said, to “the right to privacy, the right to work, the right to move within the halls of government and elsewhere without wondering if someone is going to report you or snatch you.''

At least 15 states, including California, and the District of Columbia have taken legal action against the plan announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week to rescind DACA. The University of California, whose president, Janet Napolitano, signed the policy during her time as secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama administration, has also filed suit.

The county could also sue on its own, said lead county counsel Mary Wickham, noting that her legal team has already filed two amicus briefs related to federal funding for “sanctuary cities.''

The vote on amicus briefs was 4-1, with Barger dissenting.

Trump has said he had no choice but to rescind the Obama-era executive order.

“President Obama bypassed Congress to give work permits, social security numbers and federal benefits to approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants currently between the ages of 15 and 36,'' Trump said in a statement last week, calling the move “executive amnesty'' and an “end-run around Congress ... violating the core tenets that sustain our Republic.''

The administration has set a phased rollback of DACA.

“Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months,'' Trump said in his statement. “Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.''

Based on Solis' motion, the board will also send a letter to the president and Congress demanding legislative action, a move that garnered unanimous support. And it will send a letter to state officials asking them to do whatever they can to protect DACA recipients, a move that only Barger opposed.

The board also directed the county's Office of Immigrant Affairs to help existing DACA recipients renew their status by Oct. 5.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl introduced a motion to add immigration to a county list of policy priorities, which currently include homelessness, child protection, reform of the Sheriff's Department, integration of county health services, and environmental oversight and monitoring.

The board's vote in favor of the new priority was unanimous.

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