SA Stands wins $1M Immigrant Legal Defense Fund

PRESS RELEASE

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

For media inquiries contact: 

Manuela Gonzalez, mgonzalez@ilrc.org, 415-255-9499

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

SA Stands Applauds Bexar County Commissioners for the Creation of a $1 Million Immigrant Legal Defense Fund to Protect Community Members and Their Families 

SAN ANTONIO, TX — SA Stands celebrates the historic creation of a $1 million Immigrant Legal Defense Fund (ILDF) to better protect the due process rights of community members and their families at risk of deportation in Bexar County. Today, SA Stands, and nearly 30 community members, testified at Commissioners Court, urging the court to create this important fund, which they did.

Acknowledging the harmful and devastating consequences deportations can have on entire communities, SA Stands received the support from County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez, who introduced the resolution to create the fund. We applaud Commissioner Rodriguez and the Commissioner’s Court for creating this critical legal defense fund and helping to keep families together.

The SA Stands ILDF campaign has also received public support from over 200 community members who have signed the SA Stands online petition. SA Stands has held phone banks, webinars, and authored an op-ed about the importance of a legal defense fund.  We are very thankful to the community for their support in making this fund possible.   

In Bexar County, nearly 66% of individuals are forced to defend their immigration case and navigate a complex court system without legal representation. A Bexar County ILDF will help increase representation for community members, and ensure they have a real opportunity to fully present their case.  

“It is unreasonable and unjust to expect individuals without the legal expertise or resources to navigate complex immigration law and competently represent themselves in immigration proceedings. Our hope is to help balance the scales of justice by providing access to representation for people who cannot afford it so that those with standing to stay in the United States have a true opportunity to receive the rights available to them under U.S. law”.– Bexar County Commissioner, Justin Rodriguez

“We have seen an unprecedented level of immigration enforcement in the last few years, placing many at risk of deportation and separation from their families. Despite the high stakes involved in these cases, the vast majority of immigrants are unable to secure critical legal representation and forced to navigate a complex legal system alone. Bexar County must take action to provide our community members true access to our justice system. Legal representation is critical and ensures that our immigration system works in a just and fair manner to keep families and communities whole.” –Edna Yang, Co-Executive Director, American Gateways

“Five years ago, the City of San Antonio took an important step forward by allocating a small amount of funding for immigration legal defense. With just that small amount of funding, over a hundred San Antonio residents have received representation, and many of their families have been kept together. The results have been demonstrated, and it is time for Bexar County to make a bold move and take this program to the next level. In a time of divisive anti-immigrant rhetoric, Bexar County should take the opportunity to demonstrate that we are a compassionate and welcoming community.”  –Kathrine Russell, Director of Removal Defense, RAICES

“With the continued attacks on immigrants and residents alike by our state government, it’s more important now than ever that San Antonio takes serious action to protect our immigrant community and fund immigrant legal defense. By granting this crucial access to legal representation and guidance to community members, the Bexar County Commissioners Court can help keep families together and protect those most vulnerable to deportation.” –Scott Kanski, Advocacy & Field Organizer, Texas Rising 

“Every day, individuals in our Texas communities are deported, not because they don’t have strong claims for relief, but because these individuals don’t have legal representation. One of the many failings of our immigration system is that it does not guarantee the right to an attorney in deportation proceedings. The Bexar County Commissioners should do all that is within their power to help address the critical need for representation and protect community members.” –Priscilla Olivarez, Policy Attorney and Strategist, Immigrant Legal Resource Center

“Being in immigration detention was one of the most frustrating and most discriminating times in my life. Before I had a lawyer to help me, I was never told anything in my case. Once I had a lawyer, I saw a difference. Without a lawyer, the judge didn’t listen to me, but I saw he listened to my lawyer. While I was detained, I saw a lot of injustice that happened because people did not have the right to representation or even access to a person who could help them understand the immigration laws. This injustice is why I think Bexar County needs a legal defense fund that will provide immigration lawyers to help people have a fair trial in immigration court.” —Mario  Hernández, RAICES Client

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SA Stands is a strong non-partisan collaborative in the city of San Antonio and Bexar County that works through organized campaigns, advocacy efforts, community education, and direct action, to mobilize against any laws and efforts that criminalize, incarcerate, deport and divide our communities. For more information visit sastands.org

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