Immigrants rights advocates speak out against proposed California budget cuts

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Advocates said there could be $33 million in potential cuts to immigration legal service programs.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As California faces a more than $50 billion budget shortfall over the next two fiscal years, groups with programs on the chopping block are speaking out, including immigrant rights advocates.

They raised their voices in support of preserving funding at a press conference at the State Capitol Tuesday afternoon.

“We have to stand against decisions that push our communities back into the shadows and leave them to fend for themselves,” said State Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles).

Immigrant rights advocates said there could be $33 million in potential cuts to immigration legal service programs. Among them, the CSU Immigration Legal Services Project, which has offered free legal services at all CSU campuses over the last six years. The project has helped students like Isela Nuno Garcia who recently graduated from San Jose State and is going on to pursue her masters there.

“Undocumented students are a very underserved population already,” she said.

She was born in Mexico and came to the United States at one year old.

Program staff said if this budget proposal stands, 75% of their funding would be cut.

Nuno Garcia’s message to lawmakers is this: “I would urge them to reconsider cutting the budget funding. It’s a huge disservice for students like me.”

Also in danger of being cut is a program known as CHIRP. It provides social and legal services to unaccompanied children. The program helps provide them with legal aid to defend against their deportation and helps them obtain housing, education and basic needs.

“Children are left without any representation in immigration court, and so you can be a two-year-old defending yourself in immigration court and this is the one program that entitles them to an attorney and social worker,” said Kristina McKibben-Sias, the executive director of Community Justice Alliance.

If the budget proposal stands, Immigrant Defense Advocates said CHIRP would be discontinued just two years after its inception.

ABC10 reached out to the Governor’s Office for comment and they referred ABC10 to the Department of Finance. In a statement, H.D. Palmer, Department of Finance deputy director for External Affairs said, “as the Governor said at last Friday’s press conference, none of these solutions were made easily or lightly.” 

“His goal was to close the shortfall while maintaining core programs and base benefits – including the continuation of Medi-Cal health care coverage regardless of citizenship status. And it’s important to note that his proposal represents the beginning of the process of discussion and negotiation with the Legislature in the coming weeks on a final budget agreement,” Palmer added. 

Lawmakers have until June 15 to pass the budget.

Gov. Newsom unveils budget deficit plan | May 10, 2024

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.