San Francisco public defender asks city to fund initiative to protect immigrants

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- ABC7 News has learned that the San Francisco public defender is asking the city to fund a multi-million dollar initiative to hire lawyers to defend undocumented immigrants if the Trump administration goes through with mass deportations.

Jeff Adachi is taking a chapter from New York City's plan to protect immigrants. It's basically the same idea that New York implemented two years ago.

Adachi says all he's talking about is everyone's right to due process.

President-elect Donald Trump says he'll deport millions of undocumented immigrants. He'll start first with those who have criminal records, that could mean the lowest level offenders.

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"This could include people arrested for traffic violations, for very minor offenses. And they could very well end up in deportation proceedings," Adachi said.

Adachi says an estimated 30,000 immigrants reside in San Francisco illegally. Many may become targets and he wants to be ready to defend them.

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ABC7 News has learned that Mayor Ed Lee met Wednesday in his office with a large group of immigrant service providers. That's where Adachi presented his plan, a plan to prepare for the worst.

"We're asking the city to fund about 30 to 40 attorneys both in the public defenders office and as well as in the non-profit law firms," Adachi said.

On Monday, as the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus led city hall in a message of unity, Mayor Ed Lee pledged the city would protect all immigrant families here.

Mayor Lee told ABC7 News Thursday the city is already funding community based lawyers helping immigrants understand their rights to become citizens.

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