Weighing in on the volatile issue of illegal immigration, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to oppose a statewide ballot initiative that would deny many public services to undocumented residents.
The board's 3-2 vote, with Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Deane Dana dissenting, was an advisory motion that carries no force but sends an important political message.
The emotional topic attracted about two dozen supporters and opponents who sought to sway the board in a lively two-hour public debate.
The controversial measure--called "save our state" by its backers--will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot as Proposition 187.
The initiative would deny public education and emergency health care to illegal immigrants and their children. School and health officials would be required to report children and parents they suspect of being here illegally and law enforcement agencies would have to cooperate with the Immigration and Naturalization Service in finding illegal immigrants.
Supporters argued that the measure would force illegal immigrants to return to their homelands by cutting off social benefits they say act as a magnet.
"There is no other country in the world that provides a free credit card for cradle-to-grave services as we do," said Antonovich.
But opponents called the measure mean-spirited and pointless.
"I don't support illegal entry into the U.S., but the county of Los Angeles has a responsibility under federal law to provide services to those who present themselves for care," said Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke.