Los Angeles–area leaders continue to defy President-elect Donald Trump.
The latest move is today's announcement of a $10 million L.A. Justice Fund intended to help locals facing deportation by the Trump administration to secure the services of an attorney. Taxpayers will foot $5 million of the bill — $2 million will come from the city and $3 million from the county — and nonprofits have pledged to come up with the rest, officials said.
“People who have built their lives in America have rights, and they deserve all of the protections that our legal system provides,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “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.”
During his campaign Trump vowed to deport all 11 million people here illegally. After the election, however, he reduced that number to 3 million — people he described as having criminal records (though data shows there aren't that many undocumented convicts in the United States).
Elected leaders today said the cash would be available by Inauguration Day. It's been estimated that 1 million people in L.A. County are undocumented. In a statement today, Garcetti's office said there are about 3,700 people in the county behind bars for being here without documentation who don't have legal representation. That number, of course, could skyrocket if Trump follows through with his ever-evolving promise to deport millions.
The fund's announcement follow other defiant moves by local leaders, including a reaffirmation by Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck not to stop or investigate people based solely on their suspected immigration status. Last month, City Council president Herb Wesson proposed the creation of an immigrant advocate's office responsible for protecting residents from mass deportations.
“We applaud this initiative,” Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), said via email. “Every person going to immigration court should receive legal representation. We foresee a lot of these funds going for legal screenings and consultations because often that is how an individual finds out what options are available.”