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Santa Clara County aims to protect residents from Trump administration

Supervisors agree to boost legal help for immigrants at risk of mass deportation

With the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump just weeks away, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agreed to launch multiple new efforts to defend the county's immigrant population and mitigate any action from Washington that could jeopardize its values and policies regarding health care, civil rights, housing and the environment.

In a unanimous decision, board members agreed to create a new plan to designed to provide legal services and representation to undocumented immigrants who may be facing deportation proceedings when Trump takes office on Jan. 20. The concern, according to the staff report, is that Trump and his cabinet selections so far have "publicly and explicitly announced an intent to execute mass deportation" of up to 11 million immigrants in the United States.

The language is particularly alarming for Santa Clara County, where 38 percent of the residents are foreign-born, and 50 percent of households speak a language other than English in the home, Supervisor Cindy Chavez said at the Dec. 6 meeting.

"A great deal of our economic prosperity and our public safety is rooted on having a community where people feel safe and welcome," Chavez said. "I've talked to people who have been here for years, who are immigrants and vital parts of our community, who are frightened about what this means for their families."

The county is expected to take a leadership role in coordinating pro bono legal representation to residents facing deportation, working with nonprofit organizations to make sure privately-funded legal representation is available to supplement county efforts. This new county-funded program is not intended to be used by residents who are charged with crimes not related to immigration, and the hope is that the effort will come at low or no cost to the public.

County Executive Jeffrey Smith emphasized that the county's actions are not intended to sidestep federal immigration law, and instead reinforces the protections under the 14th Amendment guaranteeing that residents, regardless of status, are given equal protections under the law.

"We're envisioning making sure that nobody loses their rights or their due process, or has any infringement on their health and welfare that is not within the consistency of the Constitution," Smith said.

Having representation makes a big difference. Lisa Weissman-Ward, a lecturer at Stanford's Immigrants' Rights Clinic, said she authored a report on 2014 that found two-thirds of detained immigrants have no legal representation, and without legal representation they had only an 11 percent chance of prevailing in court. By comparison, 83 percent of detained immigrations with legal representation from local Bay Area nonprofits were successful in avoiding deportation.

The number of immigrants facing deportation without legal representation is also expected to go up if the Trump administration steps up enforcement. Ilyce Shugall, the directing attorney at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, told supervisors that there's already a backlog of 36,400 cases in San Francisco's immigration court for non-detained immigrations, delaying proceedings by as much as five years. With the new administration coming in, Shugall expects that the backlog is going to get worse, meaning fewer people will be represented by lawyers.

Richard Konda, the executive director of Asian Law Alliance, said there are an estimated 180,000 undocumented immigrants in the county, from Palo Alto to Gilroy, most of whom have families and deep roots in the community. It's the only area of American law, he said, that empowers the government to lock people up and force them to fight against trained government attorneys without legal assistance.

"Now more than ever, Santa Clara County must fortify its commitment... and ensure that everyone is armed with information to protect themselves and have a fair chance at their deportation case," Konda said.

County Supervisor Joe Simitian said he has struggled to sort out how to move forward in a time of great uncertainty, and that his approach is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. He said the county needs to act fast because of the potential for "overzealous" enforcement on the part of the Trump administration, and the fact that the president-elect uses phrases like "day one" and "first 100 days" regarding his plans.

Supervisor Dave Cortese said much of the focus has been on Latino immigrants, but the county has to step up its protection for immigrants irrespective of ethnicity and documentation. He pointed out that plenty of immigrants on work visas, even if they've done everything right, may be at risk because of "breakdowns in bureaucracies" over the years.

"Our approach is going to be the full spectrum on this," he said.

In addition to legal protection for immigrants, county supervisors also voted to create a new Federal Legislative Advocacy Task Force, which will be designed to evaluate and analyze changes in federal policies that might have a major effect on Santa Clara County. Top concerns in the staff report include the potential repeal of Obamacare, which would affect many residents relying on Covered California for health care, as well as changes in infrastructure investments that could affect county housing and transportation projects that rely on federal dollars for support. Simitian pointed out that the selection of Ben Carson as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, for example, could have major implications on the $950 Measure A housing bond that Santa Clara County voters passed last month.

The task force will be chaired by Simitian, and will include Cortese, and U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo and Ro Khanna.

Supervisors also voted unanimously to kick off strategic plans aimed at addressing any legal issues that the county faces from the incoming Trump administration, making sure the county has a seat at the table as Washington considers changes in health care, housing and social services, and protects its funding streams from the federal government.

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2016 at 8:03 pm

186,000 illegals is about 5% of Santa Clara County's population. Hard to believe that number, but if true the Supervisors don't seem to be much in support of Federal Immigration law.


32 people like this
Posted by Sean
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 12, 2016 at 8:22 pm

If immigrants are not here illegally, they should have nothing to worry about. If they are here illegally they should face the consequences. What is the issue? Is Santa Clara County, somehow, going to pay for legal representation for law-breakers? Beam me up, Scotty...will my tax dollars be spent on such schemes, and not needed infrastructure?


10 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 12, 2016 at 9:30 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

"Illegal" immigrants obey the supreme law of that Conservative deity The Marketplace: supply and demand. Employers demand a cheap compliant disposable workforce, "illegal" immigrants supply it.

Why, then, are these immigrants called illegal? Because they are dark-skinned and speak Spanish. [Portion removed.] Raw bigotry trumps lofty Conservative principles every time.


18 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 12, 2016 at 10:20 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@ Curmudgeon - Sounds like we'd be doing them a favor to liberate them from their oppressive employers, and help them back home.


7 people like this
Posted by Anony Andy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 13, 2016 at 7:23 am

"Why, then, are these immigrants called illegal? Because they are dark-skinned and speak Spanish. [Portion removed.] Raw bigotry trumps lofty Conservative principles every time."

They are not just "called" illegal. Their behavior that breaks the laws, defines their actions. It is not what they are called that matters. Heck, we could all call them "immigrants without documents who continue to break laws", and it would not charge their behavior one bit.

And Curmudgeon is a racist. I know quite a few undocumented immigrants who are neither dark-skinned nor speak Spanish [portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 13, 2016 at 7:53 am

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 13, 2016 at 9:50 am

Do you all remember Cesar Chavez? He set up the United Farm Workers so that the workers came in under a collective, got a fair salary, did their jobs, then went home. The same workers came to the same farms every year. If someone is using the people that just came over the fence then they are not into following the guidelines for fair payment of farm workers. Another point now is to stop the transport of drugs over the border - that was a topic of concern for Bernie. Do you all have a problem with organized farm workers who get a fair salary? Are you dependent of the drugs that are coming over the border? And are you busy using tax payer money to protect criminals from being sent back to where they came form? Tech workers come in with visas so they are covered.
Bottom line is that you have to stop throwing words around and clearly define what the taxpayer is responsible for and what is unacceptable. If people do not want to get their paperwork together and go through a worker permit process then forget it. And if you hire someone and you do not help them get a formal worker permit then forget it. I have visited foreign countries and you have to have your paperwork done before you go. Everyone out there expects paperwork so we should too.


3 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 13, 2016 at 9:56 am

I am a fourth generation Californian. So far the "California Values" I have seen is people taking advantage of other people. We need to get this straight and legal. We are not going to have slaves in the house or at work. And the taxpayer should not be expected to support a modern version of slavery.


5 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2016 at 10:53 am

Let's build a wall around Santa Clara County and keep the federal government out. We can then let the feds cut off all funding to the state of California and live in the twilight zone of safety as determined by our state and local officials, including the Palo Alto City Council who last night voted measure. What buffoonery!

Illegal immigration is a problem. Calling it anything else is duplicitous. Chavez did it the right way and the system has been abused from both sides, employers and those seeking work who are here illegally.


Like this comment
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2016 at 10:55 am

38 year resident Edit.....Including the Palo Alto City Council who last night voted for a similar measure.


4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 13, 2016 at 11:06 am

As you all may recall the head of HP who wanted to run for governor got axed out because she had an undocumented worker in her house as a maid. When you have an undocumented person working for you they are not getting a fair salary and the person is not picking up any taxes for the person being in the workplace. It is a whole scam. And the "progressives" are very proud of the scam. A scam is a scam and slavery is what is happening here. If the person has no paper then that person will be taken advantage of. If we are the 6th biggest economy in the world then we should be treating all people equal with fair salaries. And we should be protecting the borders from the transport of drugs. And we should not be harboring immigrants which have a criminal record. Other streams here talk about budget shortages so money is tight and we need to control how it is spent.


5 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 13, 2016 at 11:19 am

Because ALL LIVES MATTER, all lives should be doing what needs to be done according to local and US federal laws -- And you liberals out there should give no special preferences to illegals who should be in the US legally in order to work. Don't even touch those with criminal records.


4 people like this
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Portola Valley
on Dec 13, 2016 at 12:30 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 13, 2016 at 12:40 pm

"And Curmudgeon is a racist."

Please don't confuse the medium with the message. For example, writing a biography of Lenin does not make the author a Communist.

I am challenging the use of the codeword "illegal" as it has been commonly applied by the Conservative media and its followers. Trump has freed them. Conservatives can now come out of the closet; they need not dread Liberal scorn for speaking plainly.

"I know quite a few undocumented immigrants who are neither dark-skinned nor speak Spanish."

Thank you for an apt example of the loaded wordplay surrounding this issue. As you illustrate, immigrants who are neither dark-skinned nor speak Spanish get the "undocumented" euphemism. Other immigrants are tagged "illegals."

The prosecution rests.


7 people like this
Posted by juan olive
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2016 at 1:44 pm

When a illegal person commits a crime, everyone says "It's only he that did it, all other illegals are not like him/her"
So nothing happens.
It's fine that Palo Alto wants to protect the good and the bad illegals. But they (Supervisors) should also take full responsibility when one of the "Bad ones" commits a crime.
Problem is, they don't. They don't do anything and continue to protect the bad ones. And then there's another crime committed and the cycle continues.
WAKE UP. A criminal is a criminal weather that are blue, green or purple. They should not be here among us.
Trump want to deport only the BAD ones. Period


10 people like this
Posted by Other Illegals
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2016 at 2:09 pm

There are also illegal Eastern European immigrants ( whom Trump and Tesla both have taken advantage of), as well as illegal Chinese immigrants ( who often live and work in the kitchens of Chinese restaurants) and illegal Korean immigrants ( who often live and work in the kitchens of Japanese restaurants).

I don't know about the Eastern European illegal immigrants, but the Chinese and Korean illegals are often brought here by "sharks" who "sell" them into indentured servitude ( short term slavery). It's the owners of the Chinese and Japanese restaurants who buy the indenture from the sharks!

Now that is REALLY slavery, and there is more of it in Alameda County and in Southern California than here.


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 13, 2016 at 8:32 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

'When a illegal person commits a crime, everyone says "It's only he that did it, all other illegals are not like him/her"'

That's Liberal justice for ya. When a male commits a crime, everyone says "It's only he that did it, all other males are not like him." Likewise for a female. Conservative justice is often less picky.

"Trump want to deport only the BAD ones. Period"

Then we must define "BAD," hombre. For example, heavy Trump supporter David Duke, Klansman extraordinaire, defines "BAD" as non-Aryan. Likewise his buddies in the Klan.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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