Long Beach Council Vote Scheduled Dec. 4 To Implement $250,000 Immigration/Deportation Legal Defense Fund is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(November 29, 2018) -- An item that would authorize city management to enter into a contract with a non-profit entity ("Vera Institute of Justice") and establish a legal defense fund and program ("Long Beach Justice Fund") at a two year cost of up to $250,000 to provide legal representation to low-income immigrants facing deportation in Long Beach, is now scheduled to reach the City Council for voted action on Dec. 4.

The December 4 agenda item was originally scheduled for November 20 Council discussion but withdrawn prior to the meeting. The issue has previously generated passionate public testimony and split Council votes, most recently during the Council's September 2018 budget proceedings.

[Scroll down for further.]

On Sept. 4, 2018, the Council approved (7-2, Price and Mungo dissenting on differently stated grounds) allocating but not expending pending future Council discussion $250,000 in FY19 for a justice fund/deportation-immigration legal defense fund. In late July, Mayor Garcia included the quarter million sum within his FY19 budget recommendations, an increase in sums previously discussed.

On Sept. 4, Councilwoman Price repeatedly stressed that she objects on principle to using taxpayer funds to represent individuals on individual legal claims of any type, calling public funding for individual claims a "slippery slope." Price said she'd support allocating the sum for legal-related items that might include information/education/guidance, outreach and the like on various issues but not public funding to pursue individual claims of any type.

A few hours earlier in chairing the Budget Oversight Committee, Councilwoman Mungo (supported by Committee members Price and Austin) recommended reducing the Mayor's recommended allocation for the item in half, with review at midyear with some sums going to Council district items as well as $100,000 (taken from $200,000 recommended by the Mayor for a youth "participatory budgeting" process. In the Committee meeting, multiple progressive/left groups supporting a "Peoples Budget" voiced dismay with reduction of the Mayor's recommended deportation defense fund and participatory budgeting items and signaled that they'd so at that evening's prime-time Council meeting.



When the issue hit the full Council meeting, Mayor Garcia swiftly announced that Councilwoman Mungo planned to make changes to what she'd previously indicated her Committee...and a few minutes later, Mungo announced she now supported the Mayor's original funding allocations.

However on the deportation defense fund, Councilwoman Mungo indicated she preferred to have the city money go to local organizations and mentioned the LB Bar Ass'n instead of the non-profit (Vera) with which city staff indicated in July it planned contract to provide the immigration/deportation defense services.

Nearing the end of a lengthy and polarizing Council discussion on the issue, Councilwoman Mungo became more blunt, saying the positions advocated by Vera conflict with the views of others in the community...and she cited the CA Police Chiefs Ass'n and the LB Police Officers Ass'n.

On Sept. 4, Councilman Supernaw indicated he'd vote for the deportation defense fund budget allocation because it merely set the money aside and would return for future Council discussion [which is coming now.] Mayor Garcia sought to dampen the hot button issue, urging respect for dissenting views but said he supports the item based on his personal family experiences with immigration law issues. On that basis, the $250k justice fund/deportation defense fund allocation item carried on a 7-2 vote (Price and Mungo dissenting.)


In its Dec. 4 agendizing memo, city staff describes the proposed Council actions as follows:

SAFE Cities Network Agreement

As part of the SAFE Cities Network Agreement, Vera will provide in-kind services to initiate and manage implementation of the Fund. Vera will serve as the fiscal intermediary of the Fund for two years and accept private donations to supplement the City's commitment of "seed" funding; lead the request for proposals (RFP) process to select and contract with the legal service provider(s); oversee and report on the performance of, and disburse funding to, legal service provider(s) for project-related work; and, dedicate the City's funding commitment and any donations received exclusively to project work in Long Beach. Staff and Vera will attempt to identify and engage qualified local, legal service providers in the RFP process. In addition to Fund and program management services, Vera will provide in-kind support services to ensure effectiveness and foster sustainability of the Fund. These support services will include technical assistance to legal service provider(s); strategic communications assistance to promote the Fund; and, providing City officials with a forum to share best practices and information with officials from other jurisdictions in the Network.

Staff from the City Manager's Office and the Office of Equity will oversee implementation of the SAFE Cities Network Agreement. This commitment will include assisting with the RFP process to select a legal service provider(s); supporting Vera with data collection and public communication efforts; participating in Vera-organized conference calls and meetings; applying for a $100,000 catalyst matching-grant from Vera; and, providing general program oversight. Additionally, during the two-year agreement with Vera, staff will work with community partners to identify a local, nonprofit organization to serve as the fiscal intermediary beyond the initial two-year term. Upon termination of the initial SAFE Cities Agreement, Vera will transfer any remaining public and private dollars to the designated fiscal intermediary to continue administering the Fund. However, Vera will continue providing in-kind program management and support services, if the need exists.

The proposed services of the Fund will include a combination of removal defense for individuals in detention (40 percent); removal defense for non-detained individuals (40 percent); and, affirmative representation (20 percent) including, but not limited to, services such as legal support for Asylum-seekers and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants and recipients, naturalization, T- and U-Visas for victims of crime, and lawful permanent residency under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). To be eligible for legal representation services, a person must reside in Long Beach and have a household income below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Long Beach Bar Association

As requested, staff gathered information from the Long Beach Bar Association on its interest in offering legal services as part of the Long Beach Justice Fund. The Long Beach Bar Association has expressed an intent to engage attorneys within its network of 400 with expertise in immigration law to provide legal services to immigrant-residents. Correspondence from the Long Beach Bar Association reflecting its interest is provided as Attachment B [part of this agendized item.]



City management's agendizing memo describes the action's Fiscal Impact as follows:

The total cost for the proposed SAFE Cities Agreement with Vera will be a one-time expense of $250,000 for a two-year period, to initiate the Fund. Of that amount, $100,000 is from General Fund expected FY 18 year-end departmental savings and the balance of $150,000 was specifically appropriated in FY 19 from expected FY 18 year-end surplus. FY 18 has not closed, but there are currently no indications of problems with this funding. Staff will apply for a $100,000 catalyst-grant from Vera in January 2019 as a matching source, to help build the fund. The Office of Equity will support the establishment of the Fund at an estimated three to five hours per week, until legal services are initiated. The staffing impact thereafter would be minimal and primarily limited to reviewing and reporting evaluation outcomes to stakeholders and working with community partners to promote the Fund. There is no local job impact associated with this recommendation.

City management's agendizing memo seeks Council action on Dec. 4 "to commence implementation of the Fund by early winter of 2019."

Amnesia File

On February 7, 2017, Councilmembers Mungo and Andrews (both of whom had been present earlier in the Council meeting) disappeared from the Council Chamber on a vote to put Long Beach on record as supporting Sacramento's SB 31 and SB 54 that would create statewide immigration "sanctuary" type policies. Councilwoman Mungo returned after the vote; Councilman Andrews did not; the resulting Council vote was 7-0.

On March 13, 2018, the Council voted 6-2 (Supernaw, Mungo dissenting, Austin absent) to approve the "Long Beach Values Act," effectively extending SB 54's policies to City departments, prohibiting LB City offices from collecting, maintaining, or disclosing "sensitive information" including but not limited to one's citizen or immigration status, absent certain circumstances in connection with enforcement of federal immigration law. On a separate motion, the Council voted 5-3 (Price, Supernaw, Mungo dissenting, Austin absent) to direct staff to investigate a universal defense fund in the amount of $250,000 for LB residents and report back to Council with options to establish that fund.


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