Supervisors approve $3 million in legal aid for undocumented immigrants, Barger opposes


A $3 million agreement was approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that would provide legal defense for immigrants who are undocumented and facing deportation.

The two-year agreement, which passed 4-1 Tuesday with only Supervisor Kathryn Barger in opposition, partners the county with the California Community Foundation.

“Our federal immigration system is broken,” Supervisor Barger said in a statement. “It is the federal government’s responsibility to support states and counties in their efforts to address the costs of illegal immigration.”

According to the fifth district supervisor, Los Angeles County taxpayers should not pay for legal representation for people who would otherwise be deported.

Barger’s position on the issue is consistent with her vote in December, the result of another 4-1 vote that created the Los Angeles Justice Fund.

The December motion directed the county CEO to set aside $1 million for 2016-17 and up to $2 million in 2017-18.

These funds are in addition to $5 million in philanthropic contributions and $2 million from the city of Los Angeles, Barger’s office cited, totaling the justice fund to $10 million.

First District Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, one of the four Democrats to vote in favor of funding, said in a statement that this will help immigrants to navigate an otherwise confusing legal process.

Often, immigrants who are undocumented have to defend themselves because they lack the resources to get legal aid, Solis said. On average, a legal case of this kind can cost about $5,000, she cited.

“Today, the board took a significant step to create a safety net for immigrants, one that is pro-family, pro-economic growth and stability and pro-civil and human rights,” Solis said.

“The L.A. Justice Fund will be able to help those individuals who have simply been trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

Similarly, Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn voted in favor of the bill in an effort to give immigrants “due process,” she said in a statement.

“There are people facing deportation who have a legal avenue to staying in this country, but the deportation system is confusing and nearly impossible to maneuver without the help of a lawyer,” Hahn said.

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