File photo by By U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Department of Homeland Security)

A City Council committee advanced a proposal Monday outlining Los Angeles’ intention to donate $2 million to a legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation.

The Los Angeles Justice Fund was first announced by Mayor Eric Garcetti and other leaders in December, with Garcetti promising $2 million to the fund, the County Board of Supervisors pledging $3 million and private donors pledging $5 million.

The idea for the fund was formed as a response to Donald Trump’s election and his vow to increase deportations of immigrants in the country illegally.

The Budget and Finance Committee approved a report outlining the city’s contribution to the fund prepared by the chief legislative analyst with a few recommendations, and it will now go to the full City Council for a vote on Friday.

When he led a news conference announcing the fund, Garcetti said organizers hoped to have everything in place by Jan. 20 — the day Trump was set to be sworn in — but L.A.’s contribution to the fund has been slower to materialize while it works its way through the City Council.

Garcetti earmarked $1 million for the fund in the upcoming 2017-18 budget that begins July 1, but it is still in the unappropriated balance until the City Council officially approves the city’s contribution to the fund.

“I am elated to announce the progress of the Los Angeles Justice Fund. This money could not come at a better time,” said Councilman Gil Cedillo.

“President Trump and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement continue their immigration sweeps in our communities, increasing the need for due process in detention centers. I am grateful that my colleagues on the Budget Committee recognize the urgency to expend these funds, and hope to have the same outcome during the full council vote on Friday,” he said.

The CAO’s report stated that the city’s contribution may not be provided to an individual who has been convicted of, or who is currently appealing a conviction for, a violent felony, which includes a conviction for human trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence, and/or pimping.

Some council members had questions about the exclusions and asked the CAO and city attorney to clarify the language in a report before the full council votes on it.

The committee also recommended that language requiring 70 percent of the money go toward detainees be stricken and also recommended language making it clear that the city’s contribution to the fund — which would take place over the next two fiscal years — is a one-time contribution and not a commitment to donate to it in perpetuity, along with making it clear that providing legal representation is a core responsibility of the state and county and not the city.

–City News Service

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