Trump and immigrants: Santa Clara County looks to bolster legal aid

SAN JOSE — Santa Clara County leaders are planning to expand funding to help local immigrants obtain lawyers to fight possible deportation under the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

In a proposal the Board of Supervisors will consider Dec. 6, Santa Clara County would partner with the city of San Jose and nonprofit groups to provide immigrants with legal services, such as preparing documents and representing them in court.

“We will do everything we can to make sure our residents know their rights and have access to legal services to protect them from unjust deportation,” board President Dave Cortese said. “The county has long strived to be a place where immigrants can live without fear of being uprooted from their homes. That doesn’t go away with a new administration.”

Cortese and other officials have not said how much they think the county should spend. San Jose leaders have not weighed in on the county proposal, but Mayor Sam Liccardo recently reiterated support for the local immigrant community, saying that the city has “got your back” on issues related to new federal policy.

Groups that vigourously oppose illegal immigration questioned spending public funds for such purposes.

“I’m not sure if the taxpayers of Santa Clara County would think that is a priority for them,” said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “There are probably a lot of other needs that money could go toward.”

The move is similar to steps taken in other heavily Democratic big cities that voted overwhelmingly against Trump. The Republican vowed during his campaign to crack down on illegal immigration, though he offered few specifics beyond building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

This week, Oakland officials discussed using public funding for legal representation for immigrants, and New York Gov.

By ERIC KURHI for The Mercury News
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