Welfare for Immigrant Children Deemed Unsustainable




Under California law children who are U.S. citizens by birth, but who have immigrant parents who are not here legally, are eligible for CalWORKS and other welfare programs if the family, including the parents, lack assets and adequate income to care for the family. In other words, if they meet the CalWORKS eligibility criteria. This results in the bizarre situation where the undocumented parents of some children report their wages to the county welfare department on a monthly or quarterly basis so the benefits the children are entitled to can be determined.

Setting aside for the moment that this is a situation in which people who theoretically are not legally entitled to work in California are reporting their wages to the county welfare department on a regular basis, the reality is that the CalWORKS program helps support working poor families, and some of these families have children who are U.S. citizens but parents who do not have legal status here.

County Supervisor Michael Antonovich of LA County has been a proponent of curbing the eligibility of children of undocumented parents from receiving welfare assistance. Most recently, according to a press release from Antonovich, the monthly tab for these kids hit $53 million in Los Angeles County alone. His press release says the $ 53 million is a combination of CalWORKS and Food Stamps and is a $3 million increase over the month of November. It also states that this $ 53 million is 22% of the total monthly expenditure in LA County for CalWORKS and Food Stamps, and of course the total tab for 12 months will be about $600 million. This growing cost is labeled as unsustainable by Antonovich.

Of course Los Angeles County is but one of 58 counties in California.  But, it is a big county and that makes the issue and its cost increasingly visible.

Government at all levels is faced with costs that exceed available revenue. The 011-012 fiscal year that starts July 1 is likely to see serious cuts to government services at many levels. As communities lose services, including the layoff of police, firefighters, teachers and others that provide essential services, welfare costs – especially those for citizen children of undocumented parents – will increasingly be a hot button issue in the political arena.  Maybe even in Orange County.

About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.