Who We Are
The Santa Barbara County Immigrant Legal Defense Center (ILDC) is an emerging non-profit organization dedicated to: 1) recruiting and training volunteer attorneys to represent immigrants in removal proceedings and 2) providing community education to help immigrants understand their basic civil rights.
On January 25, 2017, the need for the ILDC became apparent as President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security established new enforcement that increased the number of immigrants at risk of being placed in removal proceedings. Growing fear among the immigrant community led the Fund for Santa Barbara to convene the Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative, a coalition of immigrant-serving organizations in the Central Coast, among them, Immigrant Hope Santa Barbara, Importa, the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), the Legal Aid Society, Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), and Future Leaders of America. Among the primary needs identified by the collaborative was the need for legal representation of immigrants in removal proceedings.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are more than 100,000 immigrants living in Santa Barbara County. Of those, 43,000 are undocumented and 86% of them have resided in the County for 5+ years. Moreover, nearly 48% of all children in Santa Barbara County live in a household where one or more parents are foreign born. While noncitizens have a right to counsel, they do not have a right to appointed counsel. After being detained, noncitizens are traditionally sent to remote detention centers where access to counsel is zero to none. According to a study by the American Immigration Council (2016), only 14% of detained immigrants secure legal representation. In Santa Barbara County, not a single non-profit organization systematically provides representation to immigrants in removal proceedings. The ILDC fills this void by recruiting and training pro bono attorneys to represent immigrants who have lived in Santa Barbara County, cannot afford private representation, and are eligible for release on bond. Volunteer attorneys are matched with a mentoring immigration attorney who will provide guidance on each case to ensure high quality legal representation.