More Waste: California Office of New Americans

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

February 12, 2015

California State Senator Ricardo Lara, who last year reintroduced the Health Care for All Act that would allow the state’s estimated 2.5 million illegal aliens access to comprehensive health care, is also promoting another costly idea that would further soak taxpayers.

Lara is touting the California Office of New Americans designed to help connect the state’s illegal immigrants with law services, English classes, information about driver’s licenses and, most important, advice on how to qualify for Obama’s executive action that will remove them from deportation and reward them with work permits and Social Security numbers.

Senator Lara is misguided again.

Lara, who chairs the California Legislature’s Latino Caucus, envisions a vast “multi-agency, multi-sector, statewide public and private effort to provide undocumented immigrants accurate, accessible information and services.” No cost estimate was provided, but it doesn’t take much imagination to envision high overhead with well-paid staff, cushy offices, generous expenses and other bureaucratic waste typically associated with state agencies.

The biggest problem with Lara’s idea is that most of what he wants to provide the illegal immigrant community is already easily available. An alien in need of a lawyer can contact any number of pro bono attorneys that specialize in immigrant law. Or better yet, he can take his grievance to the Department of Justice or the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund.

For those who want to learn English, most if not all of California’s 9,900 K-12 schools either offer English as a Second Language or, if not, can make referrals to a nearby church or charitable organization that does. When illegal immigrants need help filling out driver’s license forms, DMV and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León recently hosted a special event in Los Angeles for that specific purpose. Otherwise, illegal immigrants can get help at any of hundreds of DMV offices located throughout the state, and staffed with bilingual clerks.

Finally, if unlawful immigrants are puzzled about how to process their applications for Obama’s executive action amnesty, California’s 10 Mexican consulate offices are eager to help and will print out a Mexican national’s birth certificate while he waits.

More prudence from Sacramento would be a refreshing change. After all, citizens have legitimate needs that shouldn’t always be forced to play second fiddle while the legislature wastes money by duplicating services for illegal immigrants already widely available.


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