Coalition of Civil Rights, Labor, and Faith Groups Oppose County Efforts to Restrict Legal Assistance for Immigrants in Deportation Proceedings

April 11, 2017

Press Release

(APRIL 11, LOS ANGELES) - Yesterday, MPAC joined a coalition of Southern California advocacy groups calling on the LA County Board of Supervisors to suspend a vote on a regressive eligibility criteria for the LA Justice Fund, which provides $10 million for legal representation of immigrants in deportation proceedings. While this Fund is a critical and positive new initiative, the LA County Board of Supervisors may vote to exclude eligibility for those who have been convicted of certain crimes.

READ:  LA Justice Letter to LA Board of Supervisors

The LA County proposed motion would bar access to counsel in deportation proceedings for people who have otherwise meritorious claims for relief or defenses merely as a result of a prior conviction. This would exclude, for example, people who have lived in this country for decades, who are legal permanent residents, who are veterans, who are refugees, who would otherwise be eligible for DACA, and many others—only as a result of a prior interaction with the criminal justice system.

The coalition of groups opposes this proposal and calls for the rejection or delay of the motion. In a letter to the Supervisors, more than 40 directors of legal, policy, and direct service organizations, and labor, faith, and community leaders, wrote:

“We are heartened that the County and City have made commitments to fund attorneys for our community members facing deportation, and firmly support the creation of the LA Justice Fund. However, we are disappointed by the divisive rhetoric around ‘criminal’ immigrants that has clouded what should have otherwise been a celebrated effort, and which is reflected in the exclusions currently proposed by the ‘LA Justice Fund Client Prioritization and Services’ motion.”

“This motion would undermine due process and further entrench the racism and injustices of the criminal justice system, depriving lawyers to some of those who may need it most, at the moment where the government is seeking to exile them from their communities,” said MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati. “This would take LA County in a direction that diverges from compromise language endorsed by LA City.”

ABOUT MPAC

The Muslim Public Affairs Council is a national policy advocacy, public opinion, and community mobilization nonprofit that improves public understanding and policies that impact American Muslims by engaging government, media, and communities. Our vision is that America is enriched by the vital contributions of American Muslims. Learn more at mpac.org

MEDIA CONTACT

Rabiah Ahmed, Media and Public Affairs Director at 202-439-1441 or rabiah@mpac.org.

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