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LA Legal Defense Fund Created To Aid Immigrants Facing Deportation

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer and County Supervisor Hilda Solis announce the creation of a $10 million fund to provide legal assistance to immigrants facing removal proceedings.

City and county officials in Los Angeles on Monday unveiled a $10 million fund to provide legal services to immigrants facing deportation. They say they want the fund to be set up before Donald Trump becomes president.

Cities across the country have been motivated to act after candidate Trump pledged to build a wall and deport 11 million people. An estimated 1 million immigrants without legal status live in Los Angeles County alone.

Los Angeles and other cities are bracing for a crackdown on illegal immigration once Trump takes office next month.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer told the Los Angeles Times:

"The fund will ensure that there is 'more fairness and more effectiveness in the immigration system.' He cited statistics showing that immigrants who have representation have a better chance at succeeding in court."

The plan calls for half the money to come from public funds and about half from private foundations. Details weren't released on how the funds would be allocated.

Mayor Eric Garcetti told The Associated Press:

"We don't know how far the new administration will go when it comes to our nation's immigration policy, but we've all heard the rhetoric, the dangerous rhetoric of the election. And we are ready to support people who can't afford or who don't realize they might need a lawyer."

Supervisor Hilda Solis' office told the Los Angeles Times that the county's board of supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday on allocating $1 million this budget year toward the fund.

The Los Angeles City Council is expected to take up the issue when it reconvenes in January.

The plan has its detractors, according to the Times:

"Some anti-illegal immigration activists criticized the move, saying it's a waste of taxpayer dollars and interferes with the federal government's immigration policies.

"L.A. officials '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 We the People Rising, a Claremont-based organization against illegal immigration. The money, she added, would be better spent on unemployed citizens, veterans, disabled and the elderly."

In northern California, officials in San Francisco also are considering plans to help fund legal services for immigrants.

Earlier this month in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the creation of a $1.3 million legal protection fund — in cooperation with the National Immigrant Justice Center.

And in New York City, a public-private legal fund is being discussed that would build on a program already in place in the public defender's office.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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