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Los Angeles Board of Supervisors Unanimously Votes to End Citizenship Requirement for Government Jobs

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has unanimously voted in favor of allowing non-citizens to work for the county government.

Government job applicants will no longer have to provide proof of citizenship as long as it isn’t required by state or federal law for the specific role that they are applying for.

“Los Angeles County is a community of immigrants from each corner of the world,” Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis said in a statement about the motion. “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.”

There are approximately 880,000 non-citizens living in Los Angeles County.

“The County wants to provide culturally competent services and attract high-quality job candidates, but both goals are made more difficult by an out-of-date requirement that only U.S. citizens are eligible for certain classes of County jobs,” said Board Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “We are asking County Counsel to explore eliminating this requirement, because it prevents our workforce from reflecting the diversity of the County population and its diverse needs.”

In her press release about the decision, Board Chair Solis included a statement from a public defender who said that barring non-citizens from working government jobs is “contrary to our core values.”

“Barriers to employment based on cultural, racial, ethnic, or religious characteristics are contrary to our core values. Citizenship overlaps these demographic characteristics,” said Los Angeles County Public Defender Ricardo García. “This motion, by Supervisors Solis and Kuehl, will promote equity in hiring and give the Public Defender’s Office access to the most qualified applicants for employment, irrespective of their citizenship status. An immigrant’s experience will advance our vision, mission, and values to protect our clients’ legal and human rights and enable us to more readily realize my goal that our employees fully represent the demographics of the population that we serve.”

Job seekers will still need to show proof of citizenship to work for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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