LA County supervisors create immigration division to protect undocumented residents

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With President-elect Donald Trump set to take office in 10 days, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors chose to create a division to protect undocumented residents.

On Tuesday, supervisors created the Office of Immigrant Affairs to combat any immigration policies that Trump may enact that could affect the county's undocumented residents.

During their morning meeting, protesters and supporters of immigration reform stood on the steps of the Hall of Administration to speak out.

Immigration reform supporters said politicians need to take care of American citizens first.

"The benefits that they're entitled to are given away to illegals - and that's wrong. College educations are given away to illegals instead of American citizens, or even veterans for that matter," Raul Rodriguez said.

Supervisor Hilda Solis said the new office will protect immigrants at all levels of government.

"I'm confident that this new office will help us not only better serve our immigrant communities, but also ensure that we're doing everything possible to protect immigrants at the local, state and federal level of government," she said.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger was the lone opposing vote for the immigrant affairs office, saying the cost to do such a thing is unknown.

"I mean there's estimates, but also this is a federal issue and this is based on a lot of 'what ifs?'" she said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell also appeared at the meeting.

"My deputies will not initiate any police activity nor arrest anyone based solely on their immigration status," he said. "It's our promise. It's written in our department policy, and it's the law."

On Monday, he visited the ABC7 studios to discuss his department's plans to deal with any policy changes. He said that it would stick to the policy of not serving as immigration agents.

In 2015, the LASD did begin working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to allow the county's most violent jail inmates to be deported once they reach the end of their sentences.

McDonnell noted that the number of these "worst of the worst" inmates who are deported is lower than people might think.

He said last year out of 120,000 inmates released from county jails, less than 1,200 were picked by the the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.

Trump has threatened to cut funding for "sanctuary cities" that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. McDonnell said he believes the new administration's actions may be less aggressive than the rhetoric of the campaign indicated.
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