Supervisor Desmond’s Statement on Legal Defense Program for Undocumented Immigrant Criminals

In May 2021, I stood firmly against the decision made by the Board of Supervisors to vote to allocate $5 million local taxpayer dollars annually to provide legal representation for illegal immigrants in Federal court.


The first annual report was released on the program, and I am appalled at the findings. It is disheartening to see San Diego County tax dollars being used to support individuals in civil hearings with serious criminal convictions, including felonies such as drug trafficking. These are not minor infractions; these are some of the most serious crimes under the law.


Let me be clear: immigration is not, and should not be, San Diego County’s responsibility. This program grants special treatment to individuals who have chosen to bypass our immigration laws, including some of the most egregious offenders.


We do not provide legal representation to American citizens when they face complex civil issues like the U.S. Tax Court, Medicare hearings, or Social Security hearings. Our county’s resources should be directed toward addressing pressing local problems, such as homelessness or behavioral health, where we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of our residents.


The report’s findings demonstrate that this program has failed to meet its intended goals. It should serve as an eye-opener to many San Diegans who are witnessing their hard-earned tax dollars used to defend individuals with serious criminal records. This program must be stopped immediately.