Support Due Process for Undocumented Immigrants!

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Dear Assemblymember Holden,

As students, activists, and residents of Claremont, we urge you to support SB6, the Expanding Due Process Act, and AB3. SB6 would allocate $12 million to the legal defense of undocumented immigrants going through deportation proceedings. AB3 would create regional and statewide resource centers to provide immigration law training and advice for court-appointed criminal defense attorneys. As a member of the Judiciary Committee in the Assembly, you hold special power over whether or not this bill passes, and we hope you make the right decision.

Under current law, undocumented immigrants are not entitled to counsel at their deportation hearings. Undocumented immigrants are often working class, minority, and of limited education. The idea that we would force them to defend themselves against the legal resources of the federal government itself is an obscene violation of their right to a fair trial. A 2010 study by Robert A. Katzmann, a chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, found that detained immigrants with attorneys were 500 percent more likely to win their cases than those without, who only escape deportation about 3% of the time. A qualified immigration attorney can be the last line of defense against a father being deported, and a family split apart. SB6's legal fund will help provide that.

AB3 upholds the same principles. Public defenders are required to advise undocumented immigrant defendants about the immigration consequences of their criminal cases. However, few criminal lawyers have expertise in that area of law, which can be as nuanced as tax law, which severely impacts the quality of defense that immigrants receive. Training these defenders is incredibly important to upholding due process not just in name, but in substance.

We cannot sit idly by while millions of Californians remain essentially unprotected by the law, vulnerable to deportation not because they have done anything wrong, but because they simply don't possess the legal power or the knowledge to defend themselves in court. We spend taxpayer money on defending accused felons, and we absolutely should, because it is only fair to do so. We should therefore have no problem defending immigrants who have come to this country for a better life. American civil rights and democracy mean nothing if it only exists for the powerful. Please uphold the right to due process for all, and vote yes on SB6 and AB3.


The Damage Control Action Network (DCAN), and the following signatories



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