In December of 2016, with the beginning of the Trump presidency less than a month away, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of a $10 million fund to provide legal support and assistance to undocumented immigrants facing deportation hearings. The L.A. Justice Fund is modelled after other similar funds that already exist in other major cities.
Los Angeles County provided $3 million for the fund, $2 million came from other government sources, and the remaining $5 million came from private donations. More money for underserved immigrant communities is desperately needed. This is particularly true as undocumented immigrants face additional challenges during the Trump presidency. You can help support immigrants in Southern California by donating to the L.A. Justice Fund.
Most Undocumented Immigrants Go Through Deportation Without a Lawyer
Unfortunately, while the state will provide an attorney to indigent defendants in criminal proceedings, an attorney will not automatically be provided for immigration hearings. This is because immigration violations are ‘civil offenses’. As a result of this, many people go through immigration legal hearings without professional representation. Indeed, according to data provided by the California Community Foundation (CCF), nearly 70 percent of people go through their immigration court hearing without an attorney by their side. This is an injustice and the L.A. Justice Fund seeks to fix this problem.
Who Can Access the Fund?
The L.A. Justice Fund is set to be available to immigrants, documented or undocumented, who are facing deportation or removal proceedings. The fund is currently set to launch and begin providing disbursement later this year, most likely in the late summer or fall.
To qualify for services under the fund, you must be ‘indigent’. In other words, you must be sufficiently needy so as to not be able to afford immigration law assistance on your own. In order to determine if you qualify, the fund will need to review your financial records. However, it should be noted that the fund is designed so that many people can qualify for assistance.
Additionally, as of this time, the fund will likely only provide services to undocumented immigrants who have not been convicted of a violent criminal defense. There is still debate on this issue, but Mr. Garcetti’s public statements indicate that those convicted of violent offenses will likely be ineligible.
California is Following L.A. County’s Lead
Senate Bill 6, which is now making its way through California’s legislative process, seeks to create a state fund that would mirror the L.A. Justice Fund. In early April, SB 6 passed in the senate with a considerable majority. Now, it has to make its way through the California State Assembly. Notably, SB 6 also does not provide any funding for those with violent criminal convictions.
Contact an Immigration Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one is facing deportation or removal in Southern California, you need to contact an experienced deportation lawyer today. At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we have extensive experience providing immigration help in these cases. Our team will help you assess your options and determine exactly how to fight your case. For immigration solutions in L.A., please call us today.