Mayor Eric Garcetti was joined this week by elected officials and philanthropic leaders to announce the creation of the L.A. Justice Fund – a $10 million fund to provide assistance to immigrants facing deportation proceedings without a lawyer.
“People who have built their lives in America have rights and they deserve all of the protections that our legal system provides,” Garcetti said. “The L.A. Justice Fund will reach out to people who are American by every measure except the papers they hold – our family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers. They are part of our community and we will fight for them.”
The fund will be comprised of $5 million from government funds and $5 million from private foundations. The L.A. Justice Fund is a partnership between the city of Los Angeles, the county of Los Angeles, the California Community Foundation, the Weingart Foundation and the California Endowment.
“We must increase our efforts to provide legal representation for immigrant residents who need a lawyer but can’t afford one,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, 1st District. “Building public-private partnerships between Los Angeles County, the city of Los Angeles and philanthropic organizations will be absolutely crucial as we pioneer this endeavor. Right now, the most important step we can take is to establish this legal aid fund so that our most vulnerable communities know that we are working to keep them safe and protected.”
The L.A. Justice Fund will begin serving immigrant Angelenos in 2017.
In the coming weeks, the key partners will determine how the funds will be allocated.
“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 Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “In this climate of fear, it’s crucial that immigrants turn to legitimate lawyers so they aren’t victimized by scam artists who prey on their vulnerability.
In the weeks since the November election, Los Angeles has reaffirmed itself as a welcoming and inclusive city. Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced that police will continue upholding Special Order 40, which means officers will not initiate investigations solely to determine a person’s immigration status.
Garcetti also convened immigration forums to address community concerns and joined municipal leaders from around the country in calling for the President-elect to extend DACA in the incoming Administration.
According to the mayor’s office, there are an estimated 3,700 unrepresented detained immigrants in the greater Los Angeles area, and potentially thousands of non-detained immigrants that are or may soon be in legal proceedings without a lawyer.
“This is a time for all of us to come together to protect our communities and our values,” said Fred Ali, president and CEO of the Weingart Foundation. “Diversity, inclusion and equity are at the core of what Los Angeles stands for. Everyone – regardless of immigration status – should be allowed to participate, prosper and reach their full potential.”
Angelenos seeking to contribute to the L.A. Justice Fund should visit calfund.org/lajusticefund.
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