Mayor Lee Announces $1.8 Million in Funding to Support Legal Defense of Unaccompanied Minors
Comprehensive Legal Defense for Unaccompanied Minors Supports Support Immigrant Families, Family Reunification & Helps Undocumented Immigrants Come Out of Shadows & Access City Services
San Francisco – Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced $1.8 million in additional funding to the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative (SFILDC) to support San Francisco’s immigrant community, particularly supporting legal services for unaccompanied minors in San Francisco.
“As the son of immigrant parents, helping immigrant families succeed in San Francisco is a deep and personal issue to me,” said Mayor Lee. “I applaud the efforts of the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative for assuring children are safe, succeed in school, and join their families here in the U.S. I am committed to working together with my partners throughout the Bay Area to support families forced to flee war-torn countries. And, I will continue to support Federal comprehensive immigration reform so our immigrant families can succeed in our cities, without fear of deportation and remain on a path to citizenship.”
Over the last year, the Mayor’s Office has worked closely with the Board of Supervisors, City Departments, Central American Consulates and the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Committee to address the record levels of children and families fleeing from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Initial funding approved by Mayor Lee supported the legal representation of 414 children in the San Francisco immigration courts. The SFILDC reports families and unaccompanied children experienced traumatic experiences and connected them to needed social services such as mental health, medical homes and other critical needs.
“Children fleeing Central America and Mexico are forced to migrate due to extreme poverty, and violence in the region. The journey to the United States through Mexico often leaves children and women vulnerable to human trafficking and violations of their basic human rights,” said Lariza Dugan-Cuadra, Executive Director of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) and fiscal lead of the SFILDC. “San Francisco’s investment in legal representation for unaccompanied children is not only in line with our values as a city but truly makes a difference and saves lives.”
Funding the SFILDC ensures that unaccompanied minors receive legal representation in San Francisco’s Immigration Courts, are able to enroll in school and obtain critical social services. Children receiving asylum are now able to continue their education, and imagine a brighter future, a safe future together with their families.
Mayor Lee urges neighboring Bay Area counties to join the efforts to support the reunification of families and unaccompanied minors and their families. San Francisco is a leader in the region and the country on immigration efforts and changing the lives of families. These families become resilient, and if invested in today, will continue to enrich San Francisco’s present and future economic, cultural and social fabric.
In addition to his work at the local level, Mayor Lee is a strong advocate for common-sense solutions in Washington. Mayor Lee supports President Barack Obama’s executive action allowing deportation relief and work permits for the immigrant parents of children who are citizens or lawful permanent residents, and San Francisco has signed on to an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold the President’s program. In addition, Mayor Lee recently voiced his support for the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2016, which would ensure due process in immigration proceedings for children and vulnerable people by providing access for such individuals to counsel, legal orientation programs, and case management services.