Debt-Ridden California To Set Aside $30 Million For DACA Legal Defense


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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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California officials are considering to set aside public funds for the legal defense of illegal immigrants who have received protection from deportation under a now-canceled executive amnesty program.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and top state lawmakers announced Tuesday they want to use $30 million to aid beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Donald Trump decided to end last week.

The plan, which is set to be taken up by a legislative committee on Wednesday, would set aside $20 million for legal services for DACA recipients and give $10 million to public colleges as financial aid to DACA students, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“We will not let one man with xenophobic tendencies undercut years of progress we have made in California to integrate these young adults into our society and economy,” California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon said in a statement, referring to Trump’s decision to wind down the DACA program.

California has more DACA recipients than any other state by a wide margin. About 223,000 DACA recipients — more than a quarter of all program beneficiaries — live there, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services figures.

Home to an estimated 2.3 million illegal immigrants, California has been particularly strident in its opposition to the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies. Brown and De Leon on Tuesday reached an agreement on a sweeping sanctuary state bill that would sharply restrict cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. And on Monday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued the Trump administration over ending DACA, asserting that the decision was a violation of the program recipients’ right to due process.

Brown and De Leon’s plan to allocate funds for DACA recipients comes as California struggles to control budget deficits and a massive long-term debt burden. Four years after crawling out of a deep fiscal hole, the state is once again facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall by next summer. California also has nearly $400 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and bond debt, part of the total state and local debt burden of $1.3 trillion, according to the California Policy Center.

Despite budget constraints, the state’s Democratic lawmakers say additional funds are needed to protect California DACA recipients who have been put in legal limbo by Trump’s decision.

“The new funding for DACA services we are adding to the budget will provide answers and help young Californians stay in the only country they’ve ever known,” said state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in a statement. “Donald Trump may love chaos. These kids don’t deserve it.”

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