Los Angeles is staying true to its pledge to be a sanctuary city during the Trump administration. On Dec. 19, leaders from the city and county of Los Angeles announced the creation of a $10 million fund to give legal aid for residents facing deportation.
Around $1 million would come from the city of Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles County will fund a further $3 million, and the remaining $6 million will be raised from donations.
“This is a call to action to those who can defend for those who have no defense,” Los Angeles City Councilman Gilbert Cedillo wrote on his Facebook page. “LA sticks by their own. Period.”
“Our region’s immigrant communities have heightened fears about the threat of deportation amid anti-immigrant rhetoric,” the L.A. Justice Fund website states. “This fund will provide rapid response funding to nonprofit legal service organizations currently representing individuals and families facing removal proceedings in Los Angeles County, and it will support pilot programs that seek to expand the pool of immigration attorneys available to provide representation.”
Several other major American cities have, or are considering, similar legal funds as Los Angeles, according to The Associated Press. Chicago recently approved a $1.3 million fund, and New York City is considering a public-private fund building off its renowned public defender program.
But the funds do not have unanimous support.
Los Angeles “should be focused on assisting the citizens, [not] taking tax dollars to pay for services to assist illegal residents countywide,” said Robin Hvidston, executive director of the anti-illegal immigration group We the People Rising, reports the Los Angeles Times.
UCLA Law professor Ingrid Eagly sees little risk on the publicly funded initiative.
“The city and state have historically used taxpayer funds to provide legal services for the poor, which includes both citizens and non-citizens,” she said. “It’s consistent with the policy of the state and the city, which is a welcoming and inclusive policy.”