Los Angeles, CA — Today, Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis offered a motion they have coauthored to create a fund to provide legal representation for Los Angeles County undocumented immigrants who are facing deportation but are unable to afford a lawyer.
“Undocumented immigrants facing deportation proceedings find themselves in terrifying circumstances that could alter the rest of their lives,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “And yet—the majority of them do not have any legal representation in their court proceedings. Due process is one of this country’s most central principles. It is one of the many reasons America is already great. Due process for all is something we should aspire to and we should start now.”
The motion directs the County to collaborate with state and local government, as well as private stakeholders, to launch the LA Justice Fund initiative to provide representation to Los Angeles County residents. It also directs the County to allocate $1 million for the fund in Fiscal Year 2016-2017 and up to $2 million in the Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget for the same purpose. The LA Justice Fund aims to raise at least $10 million to cover legal aid for immigrant individuals.
“Hardworking immigrants contribute every day to our economy, our tax base, and our society. It is undeniable – immigrants in this country are working hard, but our federal immigration system is broken,” said Supervisor Solis. “Until our federal leaders are able to deliver comprehensive immigration reform, they should not lay the burden of their gridlock on our local economy and our families. Legal representation is not about being a Republican or a Democrat. It is not even about being pro-immigrant or anti-immigrant. It is about reinforcing a safety net that is pro-family, pro-economic growth and stability, and pro-civil and human rights.”
Supervisor Hahn was a well-known champion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) programs as a member of Congress. She plans to continue to fight to keep families and immigrant communities together.
It takes about $5,000 to fund one immigration legal case. Experts estimate that approximately 7,000 Los Angeles County residents face removal proceedings without a lawyer each year. If the funding raised by the LA Justice Fund is insufficient to cover everyone, Supervisor Solis has asked the County to make sure that the most vulnerable groups are protected, such as DACA/DAPA beneficiaries, veterans, refugees, and unaccompanied minors. Details of the fund are not yet finalized, but will be fleshed out before the presidential inauguration in January.