by Steve Angeles
LOS ANGELES - The City Council approved a measure that would pave the way for a Justice Fund to help those in deportation proceedings.
The City Council passed the Los Angeles Justice Fund in an 11-to-1 vote. The vote now puts into motion a fund that will be used to help give legal representation to low income undocumented immigrant facing deportation proceedings.
The city’s vote comes days after the county’s approval.
“We’re ready to use it. So we’re happy for our kababayans who will benefit from this, di ba?” said Myrla Baldonado of the Pilipino Workers Center.
Immigrant rights activists and service providers have been making their rounds with elected officials, with many Filipinos testifying on the need for the measure.
The fund was announced by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti earlier this year. Part of the delay in the implementation included city officials figuring out if convicted criminal aliens should be allowed to access the fund.
“I will not support our money going towards representation of people who have been convicted of horrible crimes on others,” said Nury Martinez from the LA City Council.
The final vote included language that would allow only for immigrants with meritorious cases to access the funds.
While it does not completely disqualify individuals with past criminal convictions, the fund will take each person as a case-by-case basis.
“The carve out was soft. Meron ili-leave out, pero they have the opportunity and it gives the powers to the attorney na mag decide kung isang client can access the funds or be represented. That’s good,” said Baldonado.
The fund sets aside $2 million in city funds, and an additional $3 million from the county.
Philanthropic groups will help make up the rest of the $10 million fund, which will be managed by the California Community Foundation.
Read more from ABS-CBN.