For Immediate Release // Excuse Cross Posting //
December 19th 2016
Legal Defense Fund Is Important First Step in Protecting Due Process For Immigrants
Los Angeles - On Monday, the city of Los Angeles announced the creation of a $10 million dollar fund to “provide legal assistance for immigrants facing deportation.” In response, the Los Angeles Coalition for Universal Representation who collectively represent more than 20 community, faith, labor, policy, legal services, and immigrants’ rights organizations issued the following statement:
“We commend Los Angeles leaders for their commitment today to provide $10 million dollars for deportation defense for our fellow Angelenos.
The creation of the L.A. Justice Fund is an important first step in protecting the due process rights of all of our noncitizen community members going through deportation proceedings. We firmly believe that no person facing permanent separation from her family and community should have to defend herself without the assistance of a lawyer – especially when the federal government is represented by an attorney in every case. This is a question of basic fairness, and we applaud the efforts of our City and County leaders to even out the scales and ensure justice for our noncitizen family members, neighbors, and friends.
New York City was the first to establish such a program. Called the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), the program has represented all detained New Yorkers in their deportation cases since 2014. NYIFUP has been a dramatic success, and we are proud that Los Angeles will join New York as a city leading the way on immigrants’ rights.
Already before the election, nearly 70% of detained immigrants in the Los Angeles area did not have lawyers representing them in their deportation cases; those who did have counsel succeeded more than five times as often. Under a Trump administration, what was already a due process crisis could become a catastrophe.”
“It is incumbent upon all of us to come together to meet the need to protect our noncitizen community members,” said Caitlin Bellis, an attorney at Public Counsel who represents detained immigrants, “This is an all hands on deck moment.”
“We are glad to see Los Angeles leaders acknowledging the need for counsel in deportation proceedings, and moving Los Angeles towards providing due process for all members of our community. We look forward to partnering with them in the coming weeks and months to defend Angelenos against Trump’s deportation machine,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, the Executive Director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, which has represented 600 people in their removal cases since its founding in mid-2015.
“This is a strong and necessary measure to protect people going through deportation proceedings, and we look forward to further engagement, creativity, and resolve from our city leaders as they develop protective policies that keep people from being caught in this unjust system in the first place,” said Emi MacLean, an attorney with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “We cannot be deterred by those who urge us towards inaction through hypotheticals. It is that kind of fear-mongering that has kept Guantanamo open 15 years later, and that has the United States with the highest rates of incarceration in the world. Everyone deserves a lawyer when faced with something as fundamental as deportation. It’s that simple.”
The County Board of Supervisors will vote on allocating its portion of the L.A. Justice Fund tomorrow. Over twenty member organizations from the Los Angeles Coalition for Universal Representation will be there to voice our support as Los Angeles takes this first step toward providing due process for all.