Centro Legal de la Raza is taking every recommended precaution to protect our clients, staff, community, and the general public from exposure to the Coronavirus.
During this crisis, our clients and communities — tenants, workers, immigrants — will have an even greater need of urgent legal services. To provide these services while limiting exposure to Coronavirus, we will close our drop-in legal clinics and physical offices to the public from March 16 until April 7, and transition as much as possible to the remote provision of legal services, by telephone, video, etc. We will continue to be physically present in court (if they are open) and for other clients needs when there is no other option. Our goal is to fortify our organization’s remote infrastructure to not only respond to the current crisis, but also to expand our remote capacity moving forward. This advances our ability to assist clients with disabilities, seniors, those with transportation difficulties, and any individual whose work schedules or limitations would prohibit them from coming to our office in person.
We did not make the decision to close in-person clinics or the whole office lightly, and we are continuing remote services to clients in need. We have also used this time to continue our policy advocacy and supporting community efforts, such as halting evictions during this crisis. We hope you join us in advocating for urgent community need. Please see below actions and ways in which you can support.
We will provide updates as we continue to explore the best ways to provide legal services to our community, while also being attentive to public health guidance. Our priority is the safety and health of our clients, staff, and all vulnerable community members.
Supporting Impacted Communities, Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19:
1) Make your voice heard to elected official (local, statewide, nationwide)
- Demand that Governor Newsom issue a statewide moratorium on evictions and public utility shutoffs. California needs a full evictions moratorium that stops evictions for all causes, not only for nonpayment of rent. It is dangerous to allow evictions to continue during the public health crisis. Contact your state legislator to demand that they support a full moratorium with no exceptions. Sign this ACCE petition calling for a statewide moratorium on evictions and public utility shut-offs, call the Governor at 916-445-2841, and find your state legislators at http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/;
- Mayors and city councils of all California cities, including Oakland, Hayward, Alameda, and San Leandro should (1) enact a full moratorium on all unlawful detainer (eviction) actions to protect immunocompromised people who should not have to choose between health and housing and (2) provide financial relief to impacted workers who may be temporarily unable to pay their rent. Evictions moratoriums should include all causes for eviction, not just nonpayment of rent so that everyone is protected from homelessness during the crisis;
- Call on the Alameda County Courts to (1) stop entering default judgments so tenants who can’t come to the courthouse don’t automatically lose their cases; (2) delay all eviction cases, including settlement conferences, trial dates, and hearings to enter judgment; (3) for the Courts tell the Sheriff to stop executing eviction judgments for 60 days. You can all presiding Judge Tara DeSautels at 510-891-6040;
- We’ve stepped up to ICE to demand they release all COVID-19 vulnerable people. We must advocate for our imprisoned community members to flatten the curve;
- Join us in demanding that @icegov parole all imprisoned people NOW. #FreeThemAll #ParoleThemAll.
Moreover, we urge ICE to IMMEDIATELY:
- Release all noncitizens detained by the Department of Homeland Security for civil administrative charges especially, the most vulnerable, including those who are fifty years or older, who have long standing medical conditions, or who are immuno-compromised. #FreeThemAll
- Demand that noncitizens detained through Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) are granted parole and asylum is restored in accordance with our international and federal obligations. Now, the DHS considers MPP folks detained so they have rights to due process. #ParoleThemAll
- Release all the remaining detained population where there is no or low risk to public safety or national security;
- Inform people of their right to seek humanitarian release;
- Ensure every person held in immigration detention centers during the COVID-19 pandemic has ongoing access to confidential communication with legal counsel;
- Ensure every person has access to their hearings in immigration court and guarantee that no person’s immigration case is negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic;
- ICE must immediately take preventative, proactive measures against the COVID-19 pandemic as they are wholly responsible for protecting the health and well being of its nearly 2,000 person population;
- To support this demand, call 1-866-DHS-2ICE and quote the points above. Please share & repost to raise awareness.
2) Centro Legal de la Raza asks local cities and counties for the following commitments to marginalized community members, such as workers, our unsheltered and immigrant communities:
- Sanctuary Cities, like Oakland, should reaffirm their institutional commitment to undocumented residents and the immigrant community who may be the targets of xenophobic and racist discrimination or criminalization;
- Halt the removal of encampments, which have been declared safer than current indoor shelters or navigation shelters by medical officials. We call upon the cities of Berkeley and Oakland, as well as Caltrans, to stand in solidarity with our unhoused community members during this unprecedented pandemic;
- Finally, we are urging local and state policymakers to expand paid sick leave protections for workers and to invest in emergency financial assistance for independent contractors and undocumented workers who are no longer able to work as a result of the coronavirus.
3) Centro Legal de la Raza needs your support. Centro staff has been moving quickly to respond to the growing crisis equitably and responsibly. Although we have closed our physical clinics, staff is working around the clock to ensure clients continue to receive the critical legal services they need. This is only possible with your ongoing support through this pandemic. Please click here to give a gift today, and ensure that the most impacted members of our community have access to justice.
The Covid-19 crisis continues to be a dynamic and progressive situation, and we are monitoring developments closely to ensure the safety and wellness of our clients, staff, and community. We thank you for your compassion and commitment in this critical time.
In gratitude and solidarity,
Centro Legal de la Raza Staff and Board of Directors