City of Long Beach
Public Information Office
333 W. Ocean Blvd,
Long Beach, CA 90802
The City of Long Beach announced today the receipt of a $100,000 SAFE (Safety and Fairness for Everyone) Cities Catalyst Grant from the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) and the selection of Immigrant Defenders Law Center as the legal service provider to initiate the Long Beach Justice Fund (Fund). The selection was made through a competitive request for proposals process overseen by the City in partnership with Vera and community members representing the Human Relations Commission and Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition. Approved by City Council on December 4, 2018, the Fund will support legal representation for immigrants who live or work in Long Beach and are facing deportation.
“Long Beach is one of the most diverse cities in the country, and immigrants make big contributions to the culture, economy and spirit of our city,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “The Justice Fund will work to support immigrants and keep families together.”
A one-time grant of $250,000 from the City of Long Beach and the $100,000 catalyst grant from Vera will initiate the Fund and legal services program. Charitable contributions from individuals and philanthropic organizations and possible grants from the California’s Immigration Services program will sustain the Fund. Through a two-year contract with the City, Vera will manage the Fund (charitable contributions and legal services program). As part of the Agreement, Vera will subcontract with Immigrant Defenders Law Center and oversee and evaluate the legal services program. Vera also will work in partnership with the City and community stakeholders to identify a community-based organization to assume responsibility of the Fund after the two-year agreement expires.
“Long Beach prides itself on being one of the most diverse cities in the country, and we work hard to be a welcoming home to our immigrant communities,” said Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez. “The Justice Fund will provide opportunities for immigrants to stay in the city they love and which they call home.”
Immigrant Defenders Law Center as founded in 2015 and has steadily grown to be the largest non-profit provider of deportation legal defense services in Southern California. Vera is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit center for justice policy and practice.
“ImmDef is thrilled to partner with the City of Long Beach to provide universal representation for Long Beach residents,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, Executive Director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center. “This project will increase access to representation for the City’s most vulnerable residents and help keep Long Beach families together.”
According to Vera’s evaluation of similar representation efforts in New York, many people in deportation proceedings have valid legal claims to remain in the United States, but cannot argue their cases effectively for themselves without legal expertise. Representation allows people to make the appropriate decision about whether to fight their cases and access the rights available to them under existing U.S. law. Under New York’s Immigrant Family Unity Project, detained immigrants saw the odds of winning their cases increase more than tenfold—from 4% to 48%—when represented by an attorney versus being unrepresented.
“We’re proud to partner with Long Beach as the latest community to join the SAFE Network,” said Tania Sawczuk, Senior Program Associate at the Vera Institute of Justice. “Legal representation is an essential way communities can maintain cohesion and ensure that everyone’s rights and dignity are protected – the lack of a lawyer should not be the only thing preventing local residents from staying in their jobs and with their families.”
On September 19, 2017, at the request of Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Rex Richardson, Jeannine Pearce and Roberto Uranga, the City Council directed the City Manager, through the Office of Equity, to partner with local immigrant rights organizations to develop a local policy that expands on State Bill 54, also known as the California Values Act (CVA). The CVA took effect on January 1, 2018. On March 13, 2018, the City Council adopted the Long Beach Values Act of 2018. At the same time, Council also requested that staff investigate the establishment of a legal defense fund, and subsequently the Long Beach Justice Fund was created. Immigrant Defenders Law Center will work with detention centers to identify people from Long Beach in need of representation that can benefit from the Fund, and will also accept referrals of non-detained individuals from local community organizations.
To learn more about the Long Beach Values Act, residents can visit http://www.longbeach.gov/citymanager/long-beach-values-act/, and to stay updated on information regarding the Long Beach Justice Fund, residents can visit http://www.longbeach.gov/health/healthy-living/office-of-equity/long-beach-immigration-resources/.
About the City of Long Beach
Home to approximately 470,000 people, the multiple award-winning and innovative City of Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods nestled together along the California coast. As a full-service charter city, Long Beach is home to the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, several museums and theaters, a highly-rated school district, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach, as well as many award-winning City departments such as Health, Parks, Recreation and Marine, Development Services and more. The City also has a highly-respected university and city college, two historic ranchos, five hospitals, five golf courses, 171 parks, miles of beaches, marinas, bike paths, and a Bike Share program.
About Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services
The mission of the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services is to improve quality of life by promoting a safe and healthy community in which to live, work and play. Long Beach Health is one of only three city-run health departments in California, which allows for better engagement with residents, neighborhoods, businesses and community partners, and fosters a greater understanding of the City's strengths. For more information, visit us at www.longbeach.gov/health, "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
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