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Task Force to Help Legal Immigrants Become Citizens

August 07, 1996

Concerned about the potential financial impact of the biggest welfare reform package in the nation's history, Los Angeles County will assist legal immigrants to become U.S. citizens and maintain benefits that otherwise would be lost.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to set up a task force to create citizenship assistance centers in county libraries, welfare offices, hospitals, clinics and other county facilities.

Supervisor Gloria Molina, author of the motion, said the county needs to develop "an aggressive and effective strategy" to encourage the naturalization of immigrants who are here legally, but are not citizens.

Officials fear it could cost the county an additional $236 million a year if 93,000 legal immigrants, who are aged, blind and disabled, lose their supplemental security income benefits and instead seek general relief from the county.

At the insistence of Board Chairman Mike Antonovich, Molina agreed that the cost of the new program should be borne by the federal government and community groups and not by the financially strapped county government.

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