LB Justice Fund to provide free legal representation for low-income immigrants

City officials explain that fund will establish ‘adequate’ protection for those in deportation cases.

Lindsay+Toczylowski%2C+executive+director+of+the+Immigrant+Defenders+Law+Center%2C+said+April+17+during+a+press+conference+at+St.+Luke%E2%80%99s+Episcopal+Church+that+the+newly+established+Long+Beach+Justice+Fund+will+allow+defense+lawyers+to+adequately+represent+Long+Beach+residents+who+are+detained+by+U.S.+Immigration+and+Customs+Enforcement+%28ICE%29.+
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LB Justice Fund to provide free legal representation for low-income immigrants

Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, said April 17 during a press conference at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church that the newly established Long Beach Justice Fund will allow defense lawyers to adequately represent Long Beach residents who are detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, said April 17 during a press conference at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church that the newly established Long Beach Justice Fund will allow defense lawyers to adequately represent Long Beach residents who are detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune

Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, said April 17 during a press conference at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church that the newly established Long Beach Justice Fund will allow defense lawyers to adequately represent Long Beach residents who are detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune

Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune

Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, said April 17 during a press conference at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church that the newly established Long Beach Justice Fund will allow defense lawyers to adequately represent Long Beach residents who are detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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Motivated to protect unrepresented immigrants at risk of deportation, city officials Wednesday formally introduced the Long Beach Justice Fund, described as a deportation defense reserve for low-income residents– who live or work in the city– to receive free legal representation in deportation cases.

Immigrant-rights activists and attorneys on April 17 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 525 E. 7th St., held signs calling for a “sacred” and “just” society, as speakers remarked about the fund, which was secured by a combined $350,000 grant from the Vera Institute of Justice and the City of Long Beach, respectively.

During the press conference Wednesday, officials announced the Immigrant Defenders Law Center as the legal-service provider for the Long Beach Justice Fund.

“[…] When Long Beach residents are detained by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the most likely place they will go is one of the most hopeless places in all of California: in Adelanto, Calif.,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center. “[It’s] in the high desert, where there is a huge for-profit prison that does ICE’s dirty work for it in holding our community members there. [It’s] where people are very unlikely to have representation that Long Beach will be giving them hope.”

The Long Beach City Council approved the Justice Fund on Dec. 4, 2018, according to city officials. The Immigrant Defenders Law Center was selected as the provider after a lengthy process by the City, Vera and community members with the Human Relations Commission and the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition.

The City provided a one-time grant of $250,000, while Vera initiated a $100,000 Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Cities Catalyst Grant.

According to officials, “charitable contributions from individuals and philanthropic organizations,” along with other miscellaneous grants, will sustain the funding for the program.

On April 17 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Long Beach 1st District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez spoke about the Long Beach Justice Fund, a newly established deportation defense fund for low-income immigrants who live or work in the city to receive free legal representation in deportation cases.

Vera will work in partnership with the City and community stakeholders to identify another community-based organization to helm the Justice Fund after its current two-year partnership ceases.

“As policy makers, we make decisions that benefit our communities and better our communities,” said Long Beach 1st District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez. “But it’s without these [supporters] that we wouldn’t be able to champion these types of policies, especially as a city councilmember that represents over 60 percent of my district, which is Latino. When I have Cambodian families that are crying because they have had families separated, when we know that our Filipino friends have had less opportunities because of the fact that they are not documented– all of this today is because of [people’s] tireless work and support.”

Eduwigis Reyes, a member of the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition and a volunteer dispatcher for the Long Beach Community Defense Network, said her responsibility will be to answer incoming calls made by Long Beach community members who are witnessing an ICE raid or pickup or have knowledge of one.

Eduwigis Reyes, a Long Beach Community Defense Network volunteer dispatcher, speaks Wednesday, April 17, during a press conference at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church regarding the establishment of the Long Beach Justice Fund

“As soon as I get a call from the community members reporting an incident, I will immediately activate the community-defense network of servers that are near the area where the incident is occurring,” Reyes said. “The CDN (Community Defense Network) observers will then drive to the scene of the reported raid or pickup and try to film and report as much as they can from the incident taking place. If a Long Beach community member were to be detained during a raid or pickup, the CDN will connect the community members to [the] Immigrant Defenders [Law Center], the legal service provider for the Long Beach Justice Fund.”

Tania Sawczuk, a member of the Vera Institute for Justice, said cases through the Long Beach Justice Fund will begin May 1 and that defenders will “continue accepting cases while the capacity permits.”

“Fairness dictates that no one should have to face exile from their community– [away from] their families, their children– simply because they cannot afford an attorney,” Sawczuk said. “[…] With over 2.2 million non-citizen residents in the Los Angeles/Long Beach Metro area that are vulnerable to deportation proceedings, […] the need for representation in Long Beach is especially stark.”

More information about the Long Beach Justice Fund can be found at longbeach.gov.