Legal aid fund for migrant children in LA expanded

With the ongoing immigration debate, the Los Angeles City Council and county Board of Supervisors voted this week to expand a fund to provide legal aid for migrant children who have been separated from their parents.

First introduced in 2017, the LA Justice Fund is a public-private partnership that gives legal assistance to those who are detained and are facing deportation.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti worked with members of the City Council to expand eligibility for the program, with a motion that permits use of funds for the legal defense of families separated under the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance policy” and are now in Los Angeles.

“No child should endure the trauma of being separated from their parents or the terror of not knowing if they will ever see their families again,” Garcetti said in a statement. “I am grateful for the City Council’s partnership and swift action, because we must do everything possible to reunify these families now. Los Angeles is answering cruelty with compassion — by giving hope and assistance to people in desperate need.”

The council voted 11 to 0 in favor of the motion on Tuesday.

“When we created the LA Justice Fund we looked to help provide legal representation for people whose only crime was looking to create a better life for their family,” said Councilmember Nury Martinez, who authored the motion. “No one could have imagined we would need it to defend children separated from their families. As a mother and an elected representative for this city, I can think of no better purpose than to use this Justice Fund to reunite families separated by this abhorrent policy.”

The county Board of Supervisors also voted 3 to 0 to include children under the protections.

According to data from the California Community Foundation, more than two-thirds of people appearing in immigration court don’t have legal representation.

Since last year, the fund has awarded $7.45 million to 17 LA-based nonprofit legal service providers, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Los Angeles,  the USC Gould School of Law, and Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights. (AJPress)

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