The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to launch the Los Angeles Immigrant Community Legal Defense Program.
The vote came during its meeting on Tuesday, July 27, approving a motion authored by Board Chair Hilda L. Solis (First District), and co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn (Fourth District).
The program originates from a previous pilot initiative known as The Los Angeles Justice Fund (LAJF Pilot) — a two-year public-private pilot, the first of its kind in the county, to provide due process in the form of immigration legal representation to low-income immigrants in removal proceedings. That offered legal representation for more than 500 vulnerable immigrants.
“Given the past four years of cruel and inhumane immigration policies coming from the previous administration, I am proud of the work we have done to protect the 3.5 million immigrants who call Los Angeles County home,” Solis said.
“One of those critical actions was to create the Los Angeles Justice Fund in 2017, a pilot program offering free legal aid to immigrants facing deportation who cannot afford an attorney. And from the beginning, we knew that this was a critical need because people who have adequate representation in court are 10 times more likely to prevail in their cases than people who don’t have an attorney. This is a hugely successful program and with today’s motion, we will expand and build upon it because the need has not gone away.”
On March 3, the Office of Immigrant Affairs submitted a report that incorporated input from nearly 100 stakeholders, including the LAJF Pilot’s grantees and dozens of public, nonprofit, and legal organizations that proposed the framework for a comprehensive, sustainable and inclusive program to provide immigrants and their families with legal representation, wraparound support services, and case management.
The vote directs the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs’ (DCBA) Office of Immigrant Affairs, in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and Philanthropic Partners, to begin implementing the Program as outlined in the attached Framework; direct the chief executive officer to work with the director of DCBA, or his designee, on identifying and allocating at least $2 million in on-going funding during the Fiscal Year 2021-21 Supplemental Budget to implement the Program as outlined in the attached Framework; and authorizes the director of DCBA, or his designee, to enter into any contracts, memorandums of understanding, and agreements needed to develop and implement the Program.
“Many immigrants have legal pathways to staying in this country—and with legal representation through the LA Justice Fund, they have been able to make their case in court,” Han said. “LA Justice Fund clients have been in this country for years. They have families, and friends, and a life here in Los Angeles County, and with the representation they needed, they were twelve times more likely to be allowed to stay in this country.
“It is important that we have put in place this long-term legal defense program for our immigrant community.”