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Orange County Focus

Countywide : Supervisors React to Immigration Report

September 22, 1993|GEOFF BOUCHER

Responding to a controversial grand jury report that called for a moratorium on immigration, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday said there is little the county can do to solve the illegal immigration problem.

"This is more than a county problem; it's a national issue," said Supervisor Chairman Harriett M. Wieder, who went on to thank the grand jury for focusing attention on the topic. "In raising this issue, it's like a 2-by-4 that gets everyone's attention."

The grand jury's report, issued in June, attributed a host of societal ills to immigrants and called for a three-year ban on immigration. The supervisors, who each year respond to the grand jury's recommendations, approved a response drafted last week by the county administrative office that cites the board's lack of jurisdiction in the matter of immigration.

The supervisors have denied that they are sidestepping the debate spawned by the report, saying the county has no authority to aggressively act on eight of the jury's 12 recommendations, including the call for the three-year immigration moratorium. In each instance, the county responded that it would pass the suggestions on to the proper agencies.

Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez, citing the ongoing effort to tally the financial cost of illegal immigration, said county officials consider it a high priority.

But, Vasquez added, real action and relief can only come from the federal level.

"We have done, I believe, as much as we can," Vasquez said. "This is a very, very complex issue. . . . Solutions begin in (Washington) D.C. I do not accept the suggestion that this board has been eluding or avoiding this issue, because that is not a fair characterization."

Wieder said one of the few grand jury recommendations the supervisors could act on, that they lobby state and federal officials, was hardly a new concept.

"We've been doing that for years," she said.

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