A routine item up for consideration by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors lead to debate about word choice when referring to people who reside in the county without proper documentation.
The supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday to remove the terminology “illegal immigration” from board policy M-59. Chairman Bill Horn and Supervisor Dianne Jacob cast the dissenting votes against the word change.
Supervisor Greg Cox, who proposed the change, said he believes the county needs to “remain consistent” and should follow the example of what he said legislators are doing in Washington D.C.
Horn, who said he sometimes isn’t “politically correct,” said the county spends millions of dollars on undocumented residents, including $52 million for undocumented inmates in local prisons.
Jacob, who asked Cox what the difference was between using illegal or undocumented, said she thought the policy was titled correctly and said only those who reside in the county legally are entitled to tax payer benefits.
Cox also recommended the board remove a point from their policy on undocumented immigration that states the board would support legislation that would repeal federal mandates that make undocumented immigrants eligible for health, education and other benefits.
“The first bullet is an advocacy position that I don’t think is really in our realm,” Cox said. “We don’t have a foreign policy.”
Supervisor Dave Roberts said he supported changing the policy because he believes it should reflect the needs of San Diegans.
“Words do matter,” Roberts said. “I just look at our local communities and our local children. I want to make sure that all kids in our schools have access to healthcare. I want to make sure they have access to education. It’s through no fault of their own what the status is of their parents — that’s the federal government’s responsibility to decide. We need to take care of children while they’re here in this county.”
The supervisors were in agreement over one point — they want to get federal reimbursement dollars for county services that undocumented residents benefit from.
“We have a lot of needs in our county and in our country in terms of costs,” Jacob said. “There are a lot of needs that are not met. If someone is illegally in our country, in my opinion — and I feel strongly about that — they do not deserve tax payer benefits, period.”
The board policy was one of dozens of policies up for periodic review under the Sunset Review Process. According to county staff, the review process is “to ensure that obsolete policies and administrative and regulatory code provisions are deleted and remaining policies reflect current board standards and practices.”
The supervisors are scheduled to formally adopt the ordinances on Dec. 15.
—City News Service
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: