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Oakland Creates $300K Fund To Provide Legal Aid For Immigrants Facing Deportation

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle Tuesday afternoon in Oakland announced $300,000 in funding for a program that provides legal representation for local immigrants facing deportation.

During a 1 p.m. news conference outside the county administration building at 1221 Oak St. in downtown Oakland, officials with the Alameda County Immigrant Legal Education Partnership and the Centro Legal de la Raza said the money would be used to fill a budget gap to keep providing free legal assistance through March.

Cinthya Munoz-Ramos, a spokeswoman for Valle, said this money would be allocated specifically for legal deportation defense.

"It's going to go to the attorneys," Munoz-Ramos said.

Jevon Cochran, a coordinator at ACILEP, said that so far they've been able to represent over 680 people in immigration court and this funding will help the organization "push back against the pervasive myth" that basic constitutional protections don't apply to undocumented people.

The move was framed as a response to the ongoing scandal caused by the White House's policy of separating immigrant families as well as the rising number of deportations occurring in California and around the country.

"For every single terrible decision that's made by the Trump administration... we in Alameda County want to continue to be a source of light, a beacon of hope, that pushes back against these reckless, irresponsible and xenophobic policies and be an example to other communities," Cochran said.

Schaaf refuses to be silent on immigration issues even after drawing the ire of President Donald Trump and other federal officials for leaking news ahead of an impending mass-detention operation in which U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement targeted more than 1,100 undocumented immigrants.

Critics have argued that the warning amounted to obstruction of justice and have called for a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"I continue to take the threats from the President and the attorney general of the United States very seriously," Schaaf said, but as of Tuesday morning she has not received any official notification that she's under investigation, or any official requests for records pursuant to such an investigation.

But, Schaaf said, the possibility of such proceedings will not force her into silence.

"I will not let the Bully-in-Chief stop me from speaking up about what I believe is right," Schaaf said. "These are Oakland values that I am representing."

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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