Supervisor Jim Desmond’s Concerns on San Diego’s Legal Defense Program

In the midst of ongoing discussions about fiscal responsibility and priorities, Supervisor Jim Desmond has brought forth a pressing matter concerning San Diego County’s allocation of tax dollars. His unwavering stance on the County’s recent expenditure towards legal representation for undocumented immigrants has become a subject of significant concern for many residents.

In May 2021, a decision was made by the Board of Supervisors to allocate a staggering $5 million annually from local taxpayer funds to provide legal aid for undocumented immigrants facing Federal court. Supervisor Desmond had ardently opposed this decision from its inception. With the release of the program’s first annual report, his apprehensions seem to have been justified.

The report’s findings have revealed a grim picture: San Diego County’s tax dollars are being utilized to offer legal defense to individuals involved in serious criminal offenses, including but not limited to grave felonies like drug trafficking. As Supervisor Desmond pointed out, these aren’t just minor violations; they represent some of the most grievous crimes codified in our legal system.

Supervisor Desmond has passionately expressed that immigration, particularly in its legal complexities, shouldn’t fall within San Diego County’s jurisdiction or financial responsibility. He stresses that the program seems to be inadvertently affording preferential treatment to those who not only sidestep the country’s immigration laws but are involved in grave offenses.

Another poignant point Supervisor Desmond makes is the apparent disparity in legal assistance. While undocumented immigrants are being provided legal representation using county tax dollars, American citizens often find themselves without similar assistance in intricate civil matters, such as disputes in the U.S. Tax Court or hearings related to Medicare and Social Security.

San Diego County faces numerous challenges, and Supervisor Desmond believes its resources would be better spent addressing more pressing local concerns. Issues like homelessness and behavioral health desperately require attention and resources, aiming to bring about tangible improvements in the lives of the County’s residents.

In light of the recent report, Supervisor Desmond’s message is clear: San Diegans should be gravely concerned about how their tax dollars are being utilized. He sees the current program as misaligned with the County’s primary objectives and a seeming failure in achieving its purported goals.

In his concluding thoughts, Supervisor Desmond urges an immediate cessation of the program. As a representative deeply committed to the welfare of his constituents, his insights should give San Diego’s residents a significant matter to ponder upon, especially when it concerns their hard-earned money and the broader welfare of their community.

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.


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