SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A proposal to fund legal representation for immigrants who face deportation gets opposition from the mayor’s office on key provisions

Supervisor David Campos last month introduced legislation that would provide around $5 million a year toward legal representation for immigrants in deportation proceedings, with around half that amount directed toward the public defender’s office and half to community non-profits.

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The legislation came in the wake of vows by city officials to defend San Francisco’s sanctuary city policies from anti-immigrant policies at the federal level and increased deportations following the election of Donald Trump as president.

Trump has said he plans to deport an estimated 3 million immigrants with criminal records, and has also threatened to withhold federal funding from cities with sanctuary city policies, which limit local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Despite the display of unity among elected officials after Trump’s election, however, Campos’ proposal has run into opposition due to its inclusion of funding for the public defender’s office.

Community-based organizations currently receive $3.8 million from the city, according to the mayor’s press office.

Mayor Ed Lee supports funding for legal services for immigrants and plans to address the needs of community based nonprofits for increased outreach and rapid response needs in a budget rebalancing plan to be released
this week, according to his spokeswoman Deirdre Hussey.

“The administration supports funding community-based organizations, who are already doing this work and have a track-record of success, to expand their services to deal with the current and anticipated needs,” Hussey said in a statement. “They have built up years of trust and good-will with communities, and have the knowledge and infrastructure in place to best address the anticipated needs.”

However, the mayor has asked the Public Defender’s Office to wait and submit a plan for providing the additional services during the normal budget process.

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At Tuesday’s rally, Campos and Adachi said the city cannot afford to take a wait and see approach, given the threat of impending deportations for the estimated 44,000 undocumented residents living in the city.

“We don’t have to wait to see, we can see it by the cabinet of terribles that is being appointed,” Adachi said of the Trump administration. “We know what’s going to happen.”

Campos said the community nonprofits themselves have said the plan requires the expertise and resources of the public defender’s office to work.

Supporters of the proposal have noted that New York City and New Jersey, where similar legal representation programs exist, fund it through the public defenders office for this reason.

“We cannot give the community the legal representation they need unless you actually have someone with specific experience and expertise, and that’s where the public defender comes in,” Campos said.

Campos, who is about to be termed out of office, had hoped to have the legislation reach the board for a vote before his last meeting next week, but Board President London Breed has declined to fast track it.

Members of the mayor’s administration met with Campos and with community-based organizations to discuss the proposal to expand immigration services Tuesday, according to the mayor’s press office.

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