During a debate in Los Angeles over the July 29-30 weekend, author and controversialist Ann Coulter debated leftist commentator Ana Kasparian of the Young Turks over immigration and welfare. The discussion was moderated by progressive author Toure Neblett. Coulter pointed out that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had once said that open borders are to the detriment to working Americans that was a “Koch brothers idea” to promote “cheap labor,” but changed his policy once he ran as a Democrat for the presidential nomination. She said “That’s what hurts the working class. The low-wage workers, more than anything else. We’re going to just keep dumping low-wage workers on the country.” She added, “A lot of them are coming for the welfare benefits now. As Milton Friedman said: ‘You can’t have a welfare state and open borders.’”
Coulter criticized prominent Americans, such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, for seeking only to bring in low wage workers who can compete for low-skilled jobs rather than highly-skilled immigrants who can compete with US elites.
In response, Kasparian said: “All it takes is a quick Google search to find that undocumented immigrants have no access to government benefits.”
However, despite Kasparian’s contention, data compiled by the Department of Public Social Services of Los Angeles County, which has the largest concentration of illegal immigrants of any county in the country, paid almost $1.3 billion in welfare payouts to illegal immigrants in just two years. Paid during 2015 and 2016, the welfare money spent on illegal immigrants amounted to nearly 25 percent of the total amount the county expended on its neediest citizens.
Los Angeles County, which is one of a number of local jurisdictions dubbed a “sanctuary” for illegal immigrants because of its stance regarding federal enforcement of immigration law, allows illegal immigrant parents with children born in the US to obtain welfare and food stamps.
Data from the LA County Department of Public Social Services, which pays out the benefits, indicates:
58,000 or more illegal immigrant families or more received a total of $602 million in benefits in 2015;
64,000 or more illegal immigrant families received a total of $675 million in 2016;
From January through May 2017, 60,000 or more illegal immigrant families received a total of $181 million.
Welfare and food stamp costs for the entire population of LA County were $3.1 billion in 2015, $2.9 billion in 2016, and $1.5 billion so far in 2017.
About 1 million of California’s estimated 4 million illegal immigrants reside in Los Angeles County.
According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, California spent a total of $25.3 billion in 2013 on illegal immigrants. With California in first place among the states for expenditures on illegal immigrants, Texas came in second at $12.1 billion, while runner-up New York spent $9.5 billion.
Los Angeles’ Democrat Mayor Eric Garcetti is the prime proponent of sanctuary status for the metropolis. To better accommodate immigrants, both legal and illegal, to LA, he founded the mayor’s Office of Immigrant Office in 2013 to assist them with the city’s bureaucracy. The immigrant affairs office offers guidance in areas ranging from licensing, financial advice, to citizenship courses.
According to its webpage:
“The Office of Immigrant Affairs serves many functions for immigrants in the City of Los Angeles (1) coordination of city services with key departments (2) providing direct services to support immigrant integration and (3) tracking and advocating for sound immigration policies at the federal, state and local level and its implementation. The Office has developed key initiatives around driver’s license implementation, citizenship and deferred action.”
Under the leadership of the office director, Linda Lopez, the agency has:
“...led a citizenship campaign to advance the Mayor’s agenda to increase the number of naturalized citizens in Los Angeles, has created an infrastructure in LA to provide services for DACA eligible populations, a program for immigrants to access Health4All Kids, and a community engagement strategy for immigrants to access driver’s licenses.”
The office also provides services to foreign-born entrepreneurs:
“The Business Portal is an interactive Startup Guide to help business owners navigate the process of registering their business with the City, County, State and Federal Government. The portal includes the following features.
“A permit and license locator to identify building/zoning permits and licenses.
"Starter Kits that provide an instructional roadmap for the most frequently opened business types in the City of Los Angeles.
“A resources and incentive finder and events calendar to increase the number of small business owners who are aware of and utilize the city’s broad range of tools and resources at little to no-cost.”
The City of Los Angeles is also coordinating with the Mexican government to accommodate foreign nationals. According to its website, the city announced in May 2016 that, in cooperation with the Consulate General of Mexico, the launching of the:
“Financial Empowerment Window (Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera), a program which provides free, culturally and linguistically competent financial counseling and education resources on-site at the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles.”
Moreover, the office also lobbies both the federal government and the state government on issues relating to immigration, including the Obama-era Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), both of which allowed thousands of illegal immigrants to remain in the country.
As for Coulter, she countered Kasparian by saying, “It is a total lie that illegal immigrants do not get all kinds of government assistance. Please do Google that...look it up. They can get food stamps, they can go into emergency rooms, they get schooling, they get English as a Second Language, they get the SNAP program, they get full health care in California."
There are currently about 11 million illegal immigrants in the US, according to the Pew organization.