Expanding Protection for Illegal ImmigrantsExpanding protection for illegal immigrants seems to be the response from Los Angeles towards Donald Trumps aggressive immigration stance. Los Angeles might be well known for the bright California sun and the star-studded Hollywood hills, but it also has a well-deserved reputation as one of America’s biggest “sanctuary” cities.  Local authorities do not necessarily report to and/or hold people for Federal Immigration Agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and they will not do the Federal government’s job by arresting and holding undocumented immigrants on the Federal government’s behalf.

LA is certainly not playing an easy game: the Trump Administration is not pleased with LA’s reputation and status as a sanctuary city, and he and Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has threatened Los Angeles that he would withhold federal law enforcement funding, which are used to support police and the public safety of the city’s neighborhoods and communities, should the local authorities persist in their “hands off” approach towards undocumented aliens.

In spite of the President’s threats, LA has stood up and set out to support the Angelinos who make up its diverse population—even the undocumented.

For the first time in the history of the state, a new state budget proposal also includes millions of dollars destined to help undocumented immigrants assert their rights under the immigration laws and fight deportation.

There are possibly millions of undocumented immigrants living in the greater Los Angeles are, and every single one of them lives under the constant danger of being deported.According to Mayor Eric Garcetti, “Los Angeles champions inclusiveness and tolerance, and welcomes everyone who seeks to realize their dreams and build their families here, regardless of national origin or immigration status.”

Deportation can indeed be a terrible experience: without a warning, ICE officers simply snatch a person away, even without allowing them to say goodbye to family members and friends.  Part of their job is to deport people, however, under the Obama Administration there was a well-reasoned approach which took into consideration the criminal history (or lack thereof) and the family circumstances of individuals  when actually enforcing their deportation power.

Deportation completely destabilizes the lives of spouses, families and children (a vast majority of which are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents) and therefore, undermines the security and prosperity of the community as a whole, as well as straining the already overburdened social services of the local and state communities.

In these times, the fear levels are higher than ever for these people. The Trump Administration has painted an unfair and bigoted image of what the true immigrant community is like, vilifying and portraying all undocumented citizens as a bunch of criminals. The fact is that being undocumented is not a crime.  Immigration violations are primarily all civil not criminal matters, which are dealt with in administrative Immigration Proceedings and not the criminal courts.  Moreover, the vast majority of the immigrant community are perfectly normal law abiding people who just want to make their lives and the lives of their families better. This new budget proposal would offer legal aid to those in need of deportation defense.

The funds will go on to support law firms and non-for-profit organizations that focus on assisting people seeking naturalization or other legal pathways to fight deportation.  There is also a particular focus on assisting unaccompanied undocumented minors to offer them legal assistance, as they have no one to help them.

“Immigrants are a huge part of our country and our culture–they are the very fabric of our nation and one of the major reasons that America is as special and great as it is today” – says Los Angeles immigration attorney Glenn Fogle, founder of the Fogle Law Firm.  According to Mr. Fogle, “The immigrant community offers many benefits to the United States, and these people deserve protection, a voice and an opportunity to fulfill the American Dream.”

Daisy Vieyra, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union, also added that the current situation in Los Angeles is a “heartening signal from the local administration.”  Given the federal government’s new outlook on immigration policies, this could actually make a truly significant difference in the state of California, and it could also set an example to follow and a great step forward towards protecting undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation.