Los Angeles County will continue to support undocumented immigrants with various programs throughout the year. (Photo by: Nicole Martínez).
By NICOLE MARTíNEZ
EL NUEVO SOL
LOS ANGELES — Jan. 15, 2019. Los Angeles County is home to 10 million people, of those residents, 35 percent are foreign-born. The county plans to keep supporting immigrants with services such as public health, social services, and consumer help.
In a media briefing yesterday, Los Angeles County officials discussed how they plan to advocate for immigrants. Rigo Reyes, Los Angeles County Executive Director of Immigrant Affairs, discussed that it is crucial to keep showing support for immigrants. According to Reyes, 42 percent of people employed are immigrants, and they contribute 35 percent to Los Angeles’s GDP. Immigrants give back to the economy and help the county prosper with their work.
“We have to make sure that we do all that we can to promote the success, to protect the rights, to welcome, and to reassure our immigrant community that we’re here to help them” said Reyes.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angles County Director of Department of Public Health, offers help through ensuring that everyone has the right to obtain health services regardless of their immigration status. Ferrer shared myths that many Americans believe in when it comes to immigrants and their use of health services. “About 52 percent of Americans really believe that immigrants burden our country with excessive health care cost and there’s actually no evidence anywhere in the country that supports that” said Ferrer.
Although health services are available and are free, many immigrants don’t use these services because of fear. However, Ferrer encourages them to take advantage of many programs that they grant. The Department of Public Health offers vaccinations for children and adults free of charge. They diagnose and treat for tuberculosis and all sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, the department has home visitation services for new parents, provide health education and information about environmental hazards. They also count with substance abuse prevention and treatment services. Some of these services are presented in various languages.
Los Angeles county also focuses on providing social services to immigrants. Immigrants have the right to apply and get benefits from the CalFresh program. Roxana Molina, Chief in Charge of Bureau of Program and Policy in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, said that applicants can apply for CalFresh online. Questions are modified and are easy to understand and follow. At a minimum applicants are required to have an ID, income verification, and immigration status.
While some may argue that immigrants should not have the right to CalFresh, Molina differs, “We are all immigrants, it may be a different time today but at one point in time your parents were immigrants and your grandparents were immigrants,” said Molina. “It feels really good to be able to say ‘Hey I help out’ and I’m doing something good.” she continued.
Immigrants can also utilize the services of the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA). According to Joseph Nicchitta, Director of DCBA, there has been an increase number of immigrants who have been scammed by immigration attorneys. In 2014 they received 80 complaints while last year they received 260 complaints. Nicchitta believes that is just a fraction of people who have been scammed and stepped up to make a complaint.
DCBA is opened for immigrants to make complaints, some of those include, wage theft, consumer fraud, real estate fraud, identity theft, and immigration services fraud. Undocumented immigrants should not fear to come forward with their complaints; DCBA is there to help.
The Los Angeles County along with community partners will continue to provide and enforce services for all of undocumented immigrants. Public charge has not changed and immigrants have the right to use services that will help them thrive. They play a crucial role in the economy and are part of the Los Angeles community.