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Los Angeles County waives citizenship requirement for government jobs

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion last week to allow non-citizens to hold government positions in the County.

As of 2018, an estimated 880,000 non-citizens live in Los Angeles County.

The motion declared, "Los Angeles County is a community of immigrants from each corner of the world. They have made Los Angeles County what it is – a county rich in culture, diverse in history, and innovative in so many facets. For instance, immigrants make up 44 percent of the County's workforce, run small businesses that generate 40 percent of the County's self-employed income, and pay billions of dollars in federal taxes every year." The motion expressed that, while the County's workforce is a representation of the community, "there is room for improvement."

In June, First District supervisor Hilda Solis and Third District supervisor Sheila Kuehl authored the motion. They requested an analysis of whether citizenship requirements for certain government workers could be legally waived.

The Office of the County Counsel and the Department of Human Resources approved, but with the exception that the policy would not apply to positions that require citizenship on a state or federal level. For example, Sheriff's Department and peace officer applicants will still be subject to citizenship requirements.

Solis told Los Angeles Daily News that the policy "allows residents of our county to be served by people who look like them and can understand linguistically and culturally their individual needs."

Los Angeles County public defender Ricardo García noted, "Barriers to employment based on cultural, racial, ethnic, or religious characteristics are contrary to our core values. Citizenship overlaps these demographic characteristics."

The motion read, "These applicants, who often express deep interest for public service and a sincere desire to pursue a career representing indigent LA County residents, reflect the County's values of inclusivity and compassion. Further, their lived experience as immigrants places them in a unique position to relate to and connect with the diverse communities the County serves."

The board hopes this new policy will broaden the applicant pool and attract more bilingual candidates.

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