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LA officials approve pro-immigrant measures, further opposing Trump policies

FILE: Seven-year-old Maya Casillas, right, joins migrant rights groups outside the Los Angeles City Hall on Jan. 25, 2017 to protest against President Trump's crackdown on sanctuary cities. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles City Council members Wednesday approved four proposals to help immigrants, further cementing the city's opposition to Trump administration immigration policies.

The council authorized the city attorney to join an existing California lawsuit that seeks to block President Trump's termination of the federal DACA program or file suit separately on behalf of the city. The Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals lets close to 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children live and work in the country legally. Trump rescinded DACA in September.

“Here in the city of Los Angeles, we support our immigrant population," said Jose Huizar, one of 12 council members who unanimously backed the resolution. "We not only support them in providing funding for possible legal defense, but we also support them in every way we can.”

The council also backed a state bill that would bar California from doing business with contractors working on a border wall, which the president has pledged would be built at Mexico's expense.

Council members further voted to support any legislation that would extend protection for immigrants under what's known as Temporary Protected Status. TPS is granted to countries adversely affected by natural disasters or wars. The Trump administration has terminated TPS protection for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from countries that include El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

A fourth measure will allow the city to explore a plan to provide a limited number of immigrants with what’s called “letters of representation.” According to officials, the city would partner with lawyers and legal nonprofits to provide about 500 immigrants with letters from attorneys to carry and show in case immigration agents stop them.

Councilman Gil Cedillo said the purpose of this program is to inform immigrants of their rights and help prevent costly deportation cases, if possible.

"This, I believe, is probably the most cost-effective program that we can do because it's pre-emptive," Cedillo said. "And we will hand either a letter, or an app, or a card to the immigrant community, and we will train them, we will do workshops, we will go out into the community."

As part of the same measure, city officials will explore whether to amend an existing contract with the California Community Foundation, which administers a public-private fund for deportation defense, to prioritize for legal help those immigrants with Temporary Protective Status who face deportation.

The Trump administation has targeted so-called sanctuary cities like Los Angeles, threatening to withhold federal grant money and ramping up immigration enforcement. In September, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested more than 100 people for immigration violations locally as part of an operation focused on cities that restrict the detention of certain individuals at the request of immigration agents.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration,” said ICE Acting Director Tom Homan in a statement at the time. “As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities.”