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Santa Ana City Council Expands and Makes Permanent its Deportation Defense Fund

For Immediate Release

Thursday, June 17, 2021


Allison Vo, VietRISE, (714) 470-0107,

Sabrina Rivera, OC Justice Fund, (949) 570-0226,

Santa Ana City Council Expands and Makes Permanent its Deportation Defense Fund

Immigrant rights advocates and Santa Ana elected officials celebrate this hard-fought victory which reaffirms the city’s commitment to protect its undocumented residents from detention and deportation.

SANTA ANA, CA – Santa Ana City Council voted to increase funding to $300,000 and make permanent its Deportation Defense Fund as part of the city’s Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget this past Tuesday, June 15th, 2021. Immigrant rights organizations and city elected officials celebrate this victory after years of advocacy in the city to make this program a long term commitment from the city to its immigrant residents:

“Refugees and immigrants are doubly punished by the criminal justice and immigration systems, and immigration enforcement targets the Vietnamese community in Orange County at the second highest rate. The increased funding and permanency of Santa Ana’s universal representation program solidifies a stable line of deportation defense that ensures due process for all impacted community members. We celebrate this safeguard for the human rights of refugees and immigrants, and the city’s commitment to keep our communities whole.”

  • Allison Vo, Youth Organizing Coordinator at VietRISE

“No person in the United States should face deportation without representation by an attorney to help them assert their rights before the federal government. The U.S. Constitution guarantees every person due process rights, and the City of Santa Ana is the first city in Orange County to invest in protecting those rights of Santa Ana residents. We look forward to other cities in the county to demonstrate the same protection for their city’s residents who face immediate deportation under the Biden Administration.”

  • Sabrina Rivera, Executive Director at OC Justice Fund

"We are beyond happy to see the City of Santa Ana make an increased and permanent commitment to defend immigrant and refugee community members from our broken immigration system. The fund has been critical to keeping Santa Ana families, most of whom are essential workers, together during the pandemic. We hope surrounding cities in the county take note of the City of Santa Ana's commitment to their residents and follow suit to ensure that all immigrants are welcomed with dignity in Orange County."

  • Directing Attorney Lisa Okamoto, Immigrant Defenders Law Center

“Increasing the funding and ensuring our commitment to the Deportation Defense Fund is a significant victory for our immigrant and refugee residents in Santa Ana. As a Councilmember, I proudly championed the establishment of this program in 2017, and now as Mayor, the City Council has reaffirmed its pledge to serve all of our residents, including our undocumented families.”

  • Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento

“Detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants continue across the country and it impacts our community as our city is made up largely of immigrant and refugees. As a daughter of immigrants and new councilmember I’m proud to have joined my colleagues in the council and advocates in fighting to ensure a long-term commitment to keep our immigrant families and community together.”

  • Santa Ana Councilmember Jessie Lopez

The Deportation Defense Fund gained momentum in the city and became a focus for immigrant rights advocates since its establishment in 2017. The program surfaced as one of the main issues during the 2020 elections in the city and was supported by all newly elected council members and Mayor. In addition, an immigrant rights coalition composed of the OC Justice Fund, Immigrant Defenders Law Center, VietRISE, Vera Institute and Harbor Institute launched an advocacy and educational campaign earlier this year to fight for this issue.


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