Los Angeles Announces Legal Fund for Detained Immigrants

Los Angeles County has already voted to contribute $3M to the legal fund, with the city adding $2M million and its partners another $5M.

LOS ANGELES -- Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city and county of Los Angeles, the California Community Foundation, the Weingart Foundation and the California Endowment will provide $10 million to a new legal fund that will start supporting detained immigrant residents in 2017.

Though the L.A. police department upholds a special order not to conduct investigations solely to determine immigration status, there are currently 3,700 unrepresented detained immigrants in the greater Los Angeles area, according to the city.

The city's L.A. Justice Fund announcement indicated that thousands of immigrants in the metro region may soon find themselves in legal proceedings over their immigration status. Garcetti said that they deserve the protections of the legal system. Thus, the new legal fund will be supported by $5 million from the city and county, and $5 million from private foundations.

Shortly after the L.A. Justice Fund's announcement, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors allocated $1 million of its budget toward the legal fund, and will add another $2 million through June 2018, according to the Whittier Daily News. The Los Angeles City Council will vote on moving $2 million in general funds to the legal fund after it reconvenes in January.

L.A.'s Immigration Support

Garcetti's administration has a history of supporting immigration integration. In 2013, he re-established the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, which announced its services to help immigrants navigate 2014 federal reforms and avoid citizenship scams.

“A fair system of justice should provide immigrants who confront deportation — including children and families striving to realize their hopes and dreams — with lawyers to protect their rights,” said Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles city attorney. Feuer cited the importance of access to legitimate lawyers by this vulnerable population.

The goal of the legal fund is to help undocumented individuals, including minors, and refugees to keep families together, and also help them avoid representation scams, according to the city.

Political Armor

The L.A. Justice Fund may be a model for cities to address future social challenges by the next Federal administration.

This multi-sector and cross-governmental cooperative will serve as a template to solve future social challenges. United, we will be better prepared to respond to Trump and give our constituents a sense of relief knowing that we are fighting for them," said Gil Cedillo, L.A. city council member.

But, not everybody is thrilled about using tax dollars for illegal residents, whether they themselves pay taxes or not.

The leader of a group against illegal immigration told the Los Angeles Times that government officials should not be "taking tax dollars to pay for services to assist illegal residents countywide,” said Robin Hvidston, executive director of We the People Rising.

Sheila Kuehl, county supervisor, pointed out to opponents at the recent board vote that the county spends public money on public defenders for residents accused of crimes. "It’s not unprecedented for us to stand on the side of the accused and give them their day in court,” she said.

Learn more about the fund on the California Community Foundation website.

Read the original announcement on Mayor Garcetti's website.

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