Don’t worry, you’re in California now…someone else will pick up the tab.
Amid a tense political battle over the nation’s borders and who should be expelled from the country, California lawmakers this legislative session are on an emergency track to develop what is likely to be the largest legal defense program in the U.S. for immigrants swept into the federal removal process.
Under the proposed law, the state-funded legal program would fall under the purview of the California Department of Social Services. The agency would vet funding applications and award contracts to nonprofits that provide attorneys for immigrants — either directly or through subcontractors — and meet certain qualifications.
But the legislation, accelerated by Democratic leaders to counter the Trump administration’s expanded immigration enforcement orders, primarily provides a broad outline of the mechanics of the program, raising questions about its costs, its administrative procedures and whom it should serve.
This year’s legislation in Sacramento, introduced by state Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), follows California’s first attempt at a similar statewide program in 2014, when it allocated $3 million to provide legal aid to an unprecedented large number of children arriving alone at the U.S.-Mexico border from Central America.
A year later, the state authorized $15 million for the development of a federal assistance program to help thousands of immigrants apply for naturalization and Obama’s deferred action programs, better known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.
As of fiscal year 2015, the Department of Social Services, which administered both legal defense initiatives, had contracted with nonprofits to serve more than 1,300 children, with an average cost per case totaling $5,000. Its second program has awarded a little over $14 million to 61 organizations and is in the midst of finalizing contracts for the 2016 fiscal year, for over $29 million to about 80 immigration and legal aid groups.
Read the whole story in the LA Times