The Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, which provides criminal defense attorneys for those who can't afford them, is woefully under-resourced to handle cases involving noncitizens.
L.A. has the largest public defender's office in the nation. But of its 700 attorneys, only two are experts in the incredibly complex immigration laws of the U.S. This enormous inadequacy in in-house expertise can lead to disasters for immigrants.
Even minor misdemeanor offenses — such as shoplifting, turnstile jumping, or public urination — can trigger deportation of noncitizens if not handled with the support and oversight of an immigration law expert.
"Providing an adequate number of immigration law experts is not only humane, it’s the law," says Andrés Kwon, author of "Defend L.A." and an attorney and Equal Justice Works Emerson fellow with the ACLU SoCal.
Read the report: Defend L.A.: Transforming Public Defense in the Era of Mass Deportation.
Read the executive summary.
Read the report appendices.