Supervisors fund illegal immigrant family aid program to monitor ICE actions in county

Helps pay for “Rapid Response” inspectors, education workshops, legal aid sessions

By Daniel Borsuk

In response to policies and actions by President Trump and to assist illegal immigrant families “facing immediate separation due to deportation,” Contra Costa County supervisors unanimously agreed to use $500,000 of AB 109 funds to cover expenses and match funds from non-profit organizations for the launch of a Stand Together CoCo pilot project in January. Stand Together CoCo 8_16_17

The proposal by the Contra Costa Immigration Rights Alliance, originally submitted earlier this year needed a total of $1,002,750 for the program. The county will use funds from state Assembly Bill 109 automobile license fee revenues. According to their Facebook page, “CCIRA seeks to end ICE collaboration in Contra Costa and to promote immigrant rights, inclusion and a spirt of welcome in cities throughout the county.” Draft CoCoCo Immigrant Legal & Ed P-ship

The effort had already rounded up $585,000 from six non-profit organizations that will help fund Stand Together CoCo operate during its inaugural year of operations consisting of education workshops, legal aid sessions, and the hiring and oversight of 12 Rapid Response inspectors who will be dispatched around the county to observe and take notes on how United States Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents conduct themselves at arrest sites.

According to the staff report, “The proposal requests that the Board of Supervisors authorize the Office of the Public Defender to establish Stand Together CoCo as a pilot project. The requested allocation is $500,000 in FY 17/18 funding to support operations in the January-June 2018 first phase, with a further commitment that the County will provide $500,000 in annual support in each of fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20. Working with key local partners, Stand Together CoCo will then use this commitment to generate funding from other public and private sources.”

Presently the program has received letters of commitment from the Y & H Soda Foundation of $275,000, the San Francisco Foundation of $100,000, the East Bay Community Foundation of $50,000, and the Firedoll Foundation of $50,000, and letters of intention from the Richmond Community Foundation of $10,000 and the California Endowment of $100,000.

During the public hearing portion that drew 21 persons speaking in support of the program that Contra Costa County Deputy Public Defender Ali Saidi will oversee, District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen questioned about the functions of the Rapid Response Dispatch Inspectors and whether they would create potential legal problems with the federal government should Rapid Response Inspectors interfere with ICE agents.

“I don’t want to see ordinary citizens getting in the way of the actions of ICE agents,” Andersen said

In the early going it looked like Andersen was going to possibly cast the lone negative vote, but later on she decided to vote along with her colleagues.

“I’m going to take a leap of faith.  I am concerned about public safety,” the supervisor later said before casting a yes vote for the program.

Andersen also voiced concern that this new county-backed immigrant rights program might duplicate services already provided in the county through existing nonprofit organizations like the Contra Costa Crisis Center.

“I don’t want to spend one half million dollars on duplicating services,” said the supervisor who represents a large minority population consisting of Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani residents.

“A Google search doesn’t show what’s really being done,” District 1 Supervisor John Gioia said in response to Andersen’s concern about the potential duplication of legal aid services for immigrants.

Deborah Bernstein of the Jewish Family and Community Services in Walnut Creek said her organization has served 875 county residents seeking immigration legal assistance from January through August.

“These people are living in a high level of fear,” she said.

Since January, Catholic Charities of Contra Costa County has helped 924 people receive legal immigration aid.

“We’ve seen a big increase in people needing help,” said Christopher Martinez of Catholic Charities.

Rubicon Contract Approved

In other action, supervisors approved a $408,750 contract with Rubicon Programs, Inc., an ex-felon nonprofit assistance program, after receiving a letter from Contra Costa Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston that he is now satisfied the one-year contract extension complies with contract protocol.  Last week, supervisors had delayed action on the contract because of the sheriff’s concern that the contract did not go through adequate review by a county contract panel.

The practice of assessing $30 a day cost living charges for juveniles serving sentences at the county’s two juvenile facilities – Juvenile Hall in Martinez and Boys Ranch in Discovery Bay, is over.  Supervisors voted 5-0 to officially end the bill that parents or legal guardian had to pay the county upon the release of their child for the daily living (meals, lodging, other expenses).  Contra Costa County joins other counties like San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles ditching the juvenile hall daily cost of living fee because it is viewed as being financially retaliatory to parents of children in the juvenile justice system.  The county had begun to temporarily cease the billing practice in 2016.

Next week, supervisors will vote on permanently ending the $17 daily electronic surveillance fee of minors in the juvenile justice system.

The county can afford to eliminate the daily cost of living fee and daily electronic surveillance fee because county officials laid off two fulltime juvenile hall clerical positions.

Supervisors also instructed John Kopchik, director of the Conservation and Development Department, to present to the board by next February proposed regulations for short-term rentals in unincorporated areas of the county.  Supervisors especially representing Discovery Bay, Kensington, Alamo, and Black Hawk have seen a surge in short-term rentals that have produced parking, noise and other problems.  County planners will develop an ordinance by examining what other jurisdictions like San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Sacramento and other counties have drafted.

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Draft CoCoCo Immigrant Legal & Ed P-ship
Draft CoCoCo Immigrant Legal & Ed P-ship

Stand Together CoCo 8_16_17
Stand Together CoCo 8_16_17


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