Barger opposes basic income pilot, county-funded legal aid to undocumented immigrants

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, representing the 5th District

Supervisor Kathryn Barger cast the lone votes against a guaranteed basic income pilot program for Los Angeles County and a continuation of county-funded legal aid for undocumented immigrants.  

Barger released written statements explaining her positions following the votes taken by the Los County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. 

Barger said the approved basic income program “deeply concerns” her. 

“Implementation of ‘Guaranteed Basic Income’ has yet to be fully researched and vetted in a jurisdiction comparable to ours,” said Barger. “As the largest county in the nation, we should be more diligent, thoughtful and strategic before we implement a program of this nature.”  

Barger said the two motions directing staff to develop a plan for a basic income program pilot project approved by the board are “vague in how participants will be chosen and what metrics will define success.” 

“These measures also lack fraud prevention efforts, which is especially disconcerting considering the pervasive fraud that recently occurred at the California Employment Development Department,” she said. 

The basic income program pilot will regularly provide at least $1,000 each month to at least 1,000 people for at least three years, according to board motions.  

Supervisors asked county staff to consider a target population consisting of women living at or below poverty level who were released from incarceration in the past seven years, transition-age youth heads of households, or domestic violence survivor heads of households. 

In her statement, Barger recommends dedicating resources to foster youth. 

“These motions do not include any programs to expand future self-sufficiency through workforce training or educational attainment and they do not target our foster youth population as the only eligible recipients for these measures,” Barger said. “Our focus should be to provide care and resources that will help our entire foster youth population succeed before we expand social services to include a universal income.” 

The county now has up to 60 days to establish a guaranteed income pilot program implementation plan.  

Legal aid 

Barger also explained her opposition to the continued funding of Los Angeles Justice Fund, a county-coordinated program that began providing legal representation to undocumented immigrants in January 2018. 

“This motion is an overreach by the county to unsuccessfully address the failures of our national immigration system — which is a glaring issue that the federal government must solve,” Barger said in a written statement. 

Barger said she supports legal representation for many undocumented individuals, including children. 

“These legal services should be funded by the federal government and not by local tax dollars. However, through today’s motion, the county continues to allocate precious resources that should be going toward local policies such as mental health care, homelessness, or foster youth care,” she said. 

Barger recommended working with federal partners to address “what is currently an insurmountable crisis.”  

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