Good evening, Chair Vargas and Supervisors.
My name is Felicia Gomez. I am the immigrants’ rights senior policy advocate at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. The ACLU is a proud member of the Invest in San Diego Families coalition.
We are here to urge the Board of Supervisors to continue its investment in the county’s Immigrant Legal Defense Program (ILDP) by approving the $5 million 2023-24 county budget allocation for this program. Thank you, Vice Chair Lawson-Remer for your continued leadership in this work.
Access to legal counsel is a fundamental civil right. For immigrants detained at the Otay Mesa Detention Center facing removal proceedings, ILDP is vital to ensuring due process and a more just immigration court system.
- Data shows that detained immigrants who have counsel succeed more than five times as often than their unrepresented counterparts.i
- But 68 percent of detained immigrants in California were unrepresented.ii
When a loved one is detained or deported, it impacts their entire family and community:
- The detention or deportation of a family member often means the loss of the household’s primary income.
- Detention or deportation can cause household incomes to fall, on average, by half and can sometimes leave them without an income.iii
The ILDP gives people a fairer chance at seeking relief from deportation and rejoining their families.
Through its ongoing funding of the ILDP, San Diego County can help continue closing the gap in legal representation and making our immigration system more just and more humane.
Having the program available is an important step, but we still have a lot of work to do to ensure all immigrants who need legal counsel have access to it.
We urge the Board of Supervisors to approve the $5 million county budget allocation for the Immigrant Legal Defense Program.
By approving this funding, the Board of Supervisors will demonstrate the county’s commitment to due process and building stronger communities.
Thank you for your time and consideration.