On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to extend a pot of money called the Los Angeles Justice Fund to kids and parents separated after crossing the border into the United States. According to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, 104 of the thousands of immigrant kids removed from their parents are currently in LA County or in the greater LA area. (None of the separated children are in the custody of LA County, however, according to county officials.)
“LA County will always stand with immigrants and asylum seekers,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis, who authored the motion with Supervisor Janice Hahn, and who championed the creation of the LA Justice Fund.
Immigration courts have served kids as young as three years old notices to appear in court, Solis and Hahn noted in their motion. Lawyers are not appointed to represent the kids in court. Instead, the children are handed a list of organizations that may offer them legal help.
“No one in this country, let alone a small child, should be forced to defend themselves in court alone,” Hahn said. “LA County has already voiced its strong opposition to the policy separating families at the border, and with this action today we can do our part to help these children as they navigate the court system to be reunited with their families.”
The LA Justice Fund is a $10 million partnership between LA County, the city of LA, the Weingart Foundation, and the California Community Foundation. A total of $2 million came from the city, $3 million from the county, and $5 million from philanthropic organizations.
So far, seventeen non-profits in Los Angeles County have received $7.45 million from the LA Justice Fund to provide legal representation to immigrants facing deportation under the Trump Administration.
The grantees include Public Counsel, the Loyola Immigrant Justice Legal Clinic, the USC Immigration Clinic, Southwestern Law School’s Immigration Law Clinic, and the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Immigration and Justice.
“Los Angeles County has not stood idly by as this Administration abuses children and their parents who are simply trying to escape poverty and violence,” said Solis. “Family separation is cruel and a grave injustice for the more than 2,300 children who were physically torn away from their parents.”
Image courtesy of the office of LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis.