Local News

$10 million legal aid fund proposed for immigrants

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced the creation of a $10 million fund to help provide legal assistance to local immigrants facing deportation proceedings.

Garcetti said the plan is a direct response to Donald Trump’s threat to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants and other “dangerous rhetoric” by the president-elect.

The city will contribute $2 million to the newly created L.A. Justice Fund, which is a partnership between the city and county of Los Angeles, the California Community Foundation, the Weingart Foundation and the California Endowment.

“As leaders of our county and city governments and this region’s philanthropic community, we are saying something loud and clear with a simple voice,” Garcetti said Dec. 19. “We are saying that the good and law-abiding immigrants of Los Angeles — our family members, our friends, our neighbors — they belong here and we will fight for them.”

The funds will be contributed in the upcoming calendar year, with the county contributing $3 million and private philanthropic organizations chipping in $5 million, Garcetti said.

The fund will focus on helping immigrants in the county under temporary status such as the Deferred Access for Childhood Arrivals program, military families, refugees and unaccompanied minors, but not immigrants with a serious criminal history, Garcetti said.

The city’s contribution will come from the general fund through a council motion, Garcetti said, adding, “Obviously I will sign it.”

The full details of the fund are still being worked out, but Garcetti said organizers hope to have everything in place by the time Trump takes office Jan. 20. He also said the calendar year contributions from government would span fiscal years, with the immediate plan being for the city to contribute $1 million this fiscal year.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said she plans to introduce a motion at the next Board of Supervisors meeting asking her colleagues to approve an immediate $1 million contribution to the fund this fiscal year.

“Immigrant workers, you may know, contribute 40 percent of the county’s gross domestic product. That’s nearly $300 billion in contributions to the county,” Solis said.

“In fact, undocumented immigrants alone contribute $57 billion to Los Angeles County’s GDP every year,” she said. “It’s undeniable: immigrants in this country are working hard, but our federal immigration system as you know is broken.”

City Attorney Mike Feuer said he did not believe there was any legal risk for the city to contribute to the fund, and said its purpose is to assure there is fairness in the immigration system. He also said statistics show immigrants facing deportation without a lawyer are five times more likely to be deported that those with representation.

“This is not some Russian gulag somewhere. This is the United States of America,” Feuer said.

More information on the L.A. Justice Fund can be found at calfund.org/lajusticefund.


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