L.A. Drops U.S. Citizenship Requirement For County Jobs

Calling the policy discriminatory, L.A. County supervisors have approved waiving a requirement that all county employees be U.S. citizens

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion Friday that will allow the county to hire non-U.S. citizens. The board voted unanimously and without discussion. 

The motion to waive the citizenship requirement was authored by Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District, and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, according to a statement from the county. 

“Los Angeles County is a community of immigrants from each corner of the world,” said Solis. “And while our County-government workforce reflects the community it represents, there is room for improvement. This motion seeks to make clear that the County, as one of the largest employers in the region, strives to be an inclusive and diverse workforce, and is committed to not excluding nor allowing citizenship to be a barrier to employment.”

The statement notes that as of 2018, there are an estimated 880,000 non-citizen residents of LA county, “contributing significantly to improve the lives of us all.” 

Kuehl stated, “The County wants to provide culturally competent services and attract high-quality job candidates, but both goals are made more difficult by an out-of-date requirement that only U.S. citizens are eligible for certain classes of County jobs.”

Previously, applicants have been rejected from entry-level government positions solely on the basis of their non-citizen status. 

Solis points out that in California non-citizens are already permitted to practice law. 

“Barriers to employment based on cultural, racial, ethnic, or religious characteristics are contrary to our core values. Citizenship overlaps these demographic characteristics,” Los Angeles County Public Defender Ricardo García maintained in the release. 

“This motion, by Supervisors Solis and Kuehl, will promote equity in hiring and give the Public Defender’s Office access to the most qualified applicants for employment, irrespective of their citizenship status.”

Garcia added, “An immigrant’s experience will advance our vision, mission, and values to protect our clients’ legal and human rights and enable us to more readily realize my goal that our employees fully represent the demographics of the population that we serve.”

The County Counsel has 14 days to report back to the supervisors with an analysis regarding whether they have the authority to issue the waiver.

The U.S. citizen requirement will remain in place for applicants for Los Angeles County Sheriff Department or any peace officers hired by the county, according to NBC Los Angeles.

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