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California lawmakers will request $10 million in state funds to help Salvadorans facing deportation in wake of Trump action

Salvadoran immigrant Cecilia Ramos lives in Los Angeles on protected status. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Salvadoran immigrant Cecilia Ramos lives in Los Angeles on protected status. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Two California lawmakers are asking that an additional $10 million go into a state legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation, after the Trump administration on Monday called for an end to temporary protections for more than 250,000 Salvadorans in the U.S.

Assembly members Miguel Santiago and Wendy Carrillo, both Democrats from Los Angeles, say they plan to make the request through legislation this week, as Gov. Jerry Brown prepares to unveil this year’s state budget on Wednesday.

The funds would go to aid Salvadorans covered by “temporary protected status,” and who have until Sept. 9, 2019, to apply for alternative legal means of staying in the country or face removal.

“This is one more blow to the area I represent, and I think enough is enough,” Santiago said Monday. “We can’t just sit here and let lives be destroyed.”

State lawmakers last year approved $65 million in a state budget plan to expand legal services for immigrants, a response to the Trump administration's call to increase deportations.

The funds, an ongoing allocation through 2020, went to a coalition of legal services agencies, immigrant rights groups and faith-based organizations called One California.

Trump administration officials on Monday said they were rolling back protections for Salvadorans as conditions in El Salvador have improved markedly since 2001, when the George W. Bush administration first made the special protections available in the wake of two earthquakes that devastated the Central American country.

State lawmakers on Monday called the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to end the status another racist blow to immigrant communities, saying conditions in El Salvador have not improved amid an extreme drought, gang violence and poverty.

For Carrillo, who won a special election in December, the legislation will be her first as a member of the Assembly. It also is personal, she said.

Born in El Salvador in the midst of a civil war, Carrillo said she lacked legal status in the U.S. between the ages of 5 and 13, after which she found a path to legal residency and citizenship.

“I campaigned on wanting a seat at the table for immigrants, for refugees, for women, for undocumented women,” she said. “For me, this a real-lived experience.” 

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