Migrant Advocates Charge Fate of California’s Immigrant Population Rests on Gov. Newsom’s Budget Revision

By Vy Tran

SACRAMENTO, CA — Immigrant rights advocates are opposing Gov. Newsom’s newest budget revision, and, if it passes, many say they are concerned California’s large immigrant population is at risk of deportation as Trump’s 2024 potential reelection approaches.

Advocates, in a statement issued this past week, said “former President Trump has threatened the ‘largest domestic deportation operation in American history.’”

“Free legal services are lifelines for many Californians, especially given Biden’s failure to reduce deportation and detention and the possibility of another anti-immigrant Trump presidency,” said Abraham Bedoy, Policy and Community Specialist at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

“The governor should invest in the diverse and immigrant-rich communities that make California so prosperous and reduce financial backing for practices such as enforcement and incarceration that separate families in our communities,” added Bedoy.

According to the Immigrant Defense Advocates (IDA), Newsom’s May Revision proposal involves reducing immigration legal services to cut back on California’s budget.

If enacted, the Children’s Holistic Immigration Representation Project (CHIRP) said it will be dissolved, and the California State University Immigration Legal Services Project (CSU-ILSP) will face a 75 percent reduction in budget.

These programs, according to the IDA, are programs that legally support unaccompanied immigrant children and thousands of CSU students, staff, and their families, respectively. In addition, this proposal will notably terminate CHIRP’s funding for immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

“Since 2015 California has invested in protecting families against separation and detention by supporting legal services and community education,” said Jackie Gonzalez of Immigrant Defense Advocates.

Gonzalez added, “The decision to reduce these services at a moment when Trump is threatening to unleash a militarized deportation campaign when he returns to power is devastating to California’s immigrant community.”

Ultimately, advocates like Gonzalez claim, in a joint statement, these legal services and education are a cornerstone to providing the means to “adjust their status and apply for… Naturalization, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS),” or proper representation in the face of government custody and deportation proceedings.

According to IDA Advocacy Director Hamid Yazdan Panah, in March, 73 statewide organizations signed a letter drafted by advocates, which implored the governor to reconsider his proposal and maintain the set budget for immigration legal services.

“A state’s budget should reflect the values of its constituents, and the cuts to immigration services the governor has proposed in the May Revise show a consequential departure from that,” Bedoy argued.

In April, on top of initial concerns within the letter, Panah reported the California Latino Caucus cited “immigration legal services as part of its 2024 budget priorities” to Gov. Newsom.

The newest advocacy letter, written by CA Latino Legislative Caucus (CALLC) member Sabrina Cervantes and CALLC Senator Lena Gonzalez, included targeted categories of health equity, housing equity, economic equity, immigration/human rights, and diversity.

“The issues addressed in this request are central to our caucus’ mission to expand healthcare access and enhance workers’ economic security, immigration, and humanitarian services, among many other historical investments,” Cervantes and Gonzalez wrote.

They added, “Approval of these items will benefit millions of residents and generations of future Californians, given that many of these investments are a lifeline for our Latino community.”

The IDA, California Immigrant Policy Center, and Immigrant Legal Resource Center all report urgency as advocates continue to raise awareness and call members of the state legislatures to pressure Newsom as budget negotiations continue through May.

Now is not the time to reduce funding for immigration legal services that serve thousands of California students, workers and their families. The governor’s proposed cuts to these programs would further isolate immigrant communities at a time when they are under increasingly xenophobic attacks,” said Masih Fouladi, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center.

Fouladi added, “To affirm our commitment to a California for All, the governor and the legislature should look for ways to preserve and expand state funding for immigration services programs. We are a stronger state when we protect the well-being of immigrant Californians, who are essential members of our communities and an essential part of what makes us the Golden State.”

About The Author

Vy Tran is a 4th-year student at UCLA pursuing a B.A. in Political Science--Comparative Politics and a planned minor in Professional Writing. Her academic interests include political theory, creative writing, copyediting, entertainment law, and criminal psychology. She has a passion for the analytical essay form, delving deep into correlational and description research for various topics, such as constituency psychology, East-Asian foreign relations, and narrative theory within transformative literature. When not advocating for awareness against the American carceral state, Vy constantly navigates the Internet for the next wave of pop culture trends and resurgences. That, or she opens a blank Google doc to start writing a new romance fiction on a whim, with an açaí bowl by her side.

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