On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, voting along strict partisan lines, approved the county’s plan to welcome Syrian refugees.
Three Democrats on the board, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Sheila Kuehl, and Hilda Solis, voted for the motion; Ridley-Thomas and Kuehl wrote the proposal. The two Republicans did not approve; Michael D. Antonovich voted no and Don Knabe abstained, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The proposal argued, “Refugees are subject to the strictest form of security screening of any class of traveler to the U.S. before they are allowed to enter, and are subject to extensive background, security and health checks.” The motion concluded:
WE THEREFORE MOVE THAT THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS declare it will honor the federal immigration policies of the United States and welcome refugees fleeing persecution in their home countries to adjust to a new, peaceful and productive life in Los Angeles County.
WE FURTHER MOVE THAT THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS send a letter to the President of the United States and the Congressional delegation expressing the Board’s support of federal efforts to help Syrians fleeing violence and oppression and to increase the overall number of refugees that the U.S. will resettle over the course of the next two years.
Antonovich, who created a local firestorm after the San Bernardino massacre by remarking, “The first thing I asked about this incident, was the guy named Muhammad?” and later emailed the Times declaring, “Radical Islamists have declared War on the United States,” warned of “a number of our federal government representatives and officials warning of a serious problem with the vetting processes that are in place,” adding that there are “certain gaps that I don’t want to talk about publicly in the data available to us.”
Robin S. Toma, executive director of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, whose mother and her family had been placed in internment camps during World War II, argued, “The idea of making policy to discriminate against a group because of the nation they came from, because of their ethnicity, because of their religion is anathema to our Constitution and to all the values of this county.”