Los Angeles County paid out $1.3 billion to illegal immigrants in welfare in 2015 and 2016. That’s one-quarter the amount spent spent on the entire needy population of the county, according to data obtained by Fox News. The county contains the highest concentration of illegal immigrants in the country.
This year the county is expected to pay out $200 million less, due to fewer immigrants entering the city since President Donald Trump took office.
“The amazing thing is that everyone was expecting a big wall to stop [illegal immigration],” said Former state Republican Party Chairman Shawn Steel, according to Fox News. “The decrease has been enhanced dramatically by ICE agents just doing their job.”
According to a study by the Migration Policy Institute, California has more than twice the number of illegal immigrants than any other state, at over 3 million. One-quarter of them live in Los Angeles County.
Texas, in second place, has less than half the amount of California, and New York comes in at third place with an illegal immigrant population of 850,000, out of the 19.75 million people who live there.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti encourages immigrants to seek benefits. He founded the Office of Immigrant Affairs to help immigrants seek government benefits after taking office in 2013.
“Immigration is at the heart of LA’s story,” he said in a written statement obtained by Fox News. “LA’s become one of the world’s great cities by embracing immigration and diversity and we’ll continue supporting anyone who wants to work hard and invest in our future—no matter who they are, where they came from or what language they speak.”
The Los Angeles mayor has disputed federal officials referring to his jurisdiction as a sanctuary city, according to Los Angeles Daily News. Federal and immigration officials are trying to target crime committed by immigrants and to enforce immigration policy. Locales that don’t comply with the increased efforts by the federal government have been threatened with a reduction in federal funding for public services such as law enforcement.
The main focus of the federal government is illegal immigrant crime. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to reduce federal funding for cities that are not in compliance with Section 1373 of U.S. Code Title 8—the law that calls for local governments to notify federal officials of the immigration status of people charged with a crime—a policy that was issued in 2016 under the Obama administration.
The Mayor and the federal government have tussled because Garcetti believes Los Angeles is within its rights to take the position it has taken on the policy. The federal government has been pushing for more and more cities in California—most recently Stockton and San Bernardino—to comply with federal immigration law.
Some groups hope to officially establish Los Angeles as a sanctuary city, saying that immigrants will feel more comfortable working with law enforcement when not under threat of deportation. Others say that would be a threat to public safety, since the fear of deportation would no longer hang over the heads of criminals who are illegal immigrants.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, current procedure only lets local police notify federal immigration officials if criminals with illegal status commit “multiple misdemeanor violations, high-level misdemeanor or felony offense violations, or for a repeat offense.”