LOS ANGELES – The Board of Supervisors delayed a vote Tuesday on $1 million in legal support for residents facing deportation after advocates protested a provision excluding individuals convicted of violent crimes.
The board first voted 4-1 Tuesday to explore its authority to limit federal immigration enforcement at schools, courthouses and hospitals, a move praised by immigration rights advocates.
Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl recommended the potential push-back against immigration enforcement, saying the county has a fundamental interest in ensuring access to service for all residents.
Their motion highlighted the case of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, a 48-year-old father of four U.S. citizens who was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents while driving two of his daughters to school.
ICE reported that Avelica-Gonzalez was ordered to be deported in 2014 because of multiple criminal convictions, including for DUI in 2009. ICE also said he was arrested about a half-mile from the school.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger voted no based on concerns stemming from President Donald Trump’s vow to reduce federal funding for jurisdictions not cooperating with deportation efforts.
Immigration rights advocates hailed the board’s willingness to resist what they characterized as aggressive federal immigration enforcement.
However, eligibility requirements proposed for the LA Justice Fund by Solis and Supervisor Janice Hahn drew fire.
In addition to the bar on prior convictions, the supervisors’ motion proposed prioritizing certain groups when doling out legal aid, including individuals with family who are U.S. citizens, heads of households, veterans and victims of crime, among others.
A coalition of organizations seeking universal representation for those threatened with deportation rallied outside the Hall of Administration and waited hours to be heard by the board.
“The devil is in the details,” said Ricardo Mireles, executive director of Academia Avance, which one of Avelica-Gonzalez’s daughters attends.”This is an old issue of unequal representation.”
Mireles said excluding those with prior convictions failed to reflect decades of inequities in the criminal plea bargaining system.
Immigrants often “plead up” to more serious crimes based on legal advice that the crimes are “immigration-safe” and wouldn’t alone qualify someone for deportation, according to a letter to the board from the coalition.
That letter was signed by representatives of nearly 50 civil rights organizations, faith leaders, labor unions, legal aid organizations and community alliances — including the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Los Angeles County Labor Federation, Public Counsel and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
The coalition called for “due process for all,” arguing for a first-come, first-served approach to providing legal aid.
Niels Frenzen, director of USC’s Gould School of Law Immigration Clinic, supported the board’s efforts to set priorities, saying there wasn’t enough funding to help everyone.
“We’re operating in a world with finite resources,” Frenzen said.
If forced to set priorities, the county should first help those at most imminent risk of deportation, sitting in federal detention, said coalition spokeswoman Emi MacLean of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
MacLean accused the board of “playing into the Trump framework of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ immigrants” and warned that Los Angeles County might end up on the “wrong side of history.”
She estimated that it would cost $12 million to provide legal representation to everyone inside of Adelanto Detention Center, which houses most individuals detained by federal immigration agents in Los Angeles County.
The LA Justice Fund is aiming to raise $10 million. The board has indicated its intent to contribute $1 million and more than $6 million more has been pledged by other public and private entities, including $2 million by the city of Los Angeles.
The motion by Solis and Hahn was “referred back” to Solis’ office, the county’s version of a redo.
The board also voted 4-1 Tuesday to formally establish the Immigrant Protection and Advancement Task Force, with Barger voting no.
“Creating a task force and hiding illegal immigrants from federal enforcement only institutionalizes their illegal status and forces them further into the shadows,” Barger said.
“These actions are reactionary and counterproductive in the effort to help individuals seek a path to citizenship or apply for legal status to be in the United States. Rather than moving toward becoming a sanctuary state and county in violation of federal law, both the state and the county should be leading the effort to initiate congressional action to enact comprehensive immigration reform,” Barger said.
The motion calls on each supervisor to appoint one member to the task force. Those five appointees will be charged with identifying other representatives up to a total of 11 members.
The coalition represents a very diverse set of communities and one member called for the same inclusiveness on the task force.
“Black immigrants have been severely ignored in the conversation about immigration despite the consistent rise in unjust deportation in black immigrant communities,” said Addis Daniel of the African Communities Public Health Coalition.
“We hope that a task force that is inclusive … will help to address the needs of immigrants across the board rather than just those with the most visibility.”
Previous related stories:
AG joins opposition to trump immigration ban
Iranian man barred by Trump ban returns to LAX
Judge’s order blocks part of Trump’s immigration order at LAX
Trump signs executive order on border wall, CA officials and activists react
Groups vilify county officials for backing DAPA, DACA
L.A. County to establish Office of Immigrant Affairs
County approves $3 million in contributions for legal aid fund
County to seek legal aid for immigrants facing deportation
L.A. County officials push back against threats of deportation
CA university leaders urge Trump to keep DACA program
L.A. County Supervisor calls for immigrant protections
6 comments for "Civil rights advocates condemn LA County Board of Supervisors"
The only Supervisor with Common-Sense is ”Kathryn Barger”….. With the new ”Gas TAX” passed & the ”Homeless TAX, how much $$$$ do you REALLY think will be paid for ROADS OR HOMELESSNESS… NONE!!!… The State & L.A. County will use it for ”Illegals & PENSIONS”… Hilda Solis & Kuehl are both LIBERALS, who are soooo wiling to BREAK ”FEDERAL LAWS”…..
Tim Scott says
Do you just randomly use quotation marks and capital letters, or is there some pattern there?
Meanwhile, the idolization of Barger, who is the most useless representative the fifth district could have, is amusing.
Maybe they can get donations for their cause from other sources other than the taxpayers. I am sure every progressive liberal IS willing to shell out their money for the cause. Put your money where your mouth. If you believe it is a worthy cause find their website site and donation YOUR money. Please post their links for all those true believers. I do not know of any laws that prohibits donations to their cause. It maybe ever tax deduction on your state and federal taxes. Just do it, don’t wait for others. It is only your money.
Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.
A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.
Tim Scott says
It is always so funny when the quotes you stick in are such a clear contrast to your own comments.
I’m pretty sure this is why we have to pay higher taxes to support these document immigrants just Deport them and get it over with
YRU Sodum says
Spoken like a true libtard. Taxes matter! Laws matter! Go be lawless (and obnoxious) somewhere else.