Two weeks ago, De-Bug’s ACJP presented to the San Mateo County Juvenile Private Defender’s Program on our work in supporting families develop mitigation packets. This presentation was part of a longer session on San Mateo County Probation’s ICE referral policy for youth. Coordinated by Adam Wells Ely, a juvenile private defender who has been active in local efforts to stop this referral practice, De-Bug co-presented with Helen Beasley from Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto and Alison Kamhi from the Stanford Law School’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. A key part of the change advocated by the San Mateo County Coalition for Immigrant Rights to the Probation Chief’s policy on referring youth to immigration was that before a probation officer was to make a referral to ICE, the juvenile private defender and the youth’s family were to be notified so they could present mitigating information that can help the PO to decide otherwise. Thus, being able to gather that information by the team of people supporting their loved one can be key to helping stop an ICE referral.
De-Bug’s ACJP shared different examples of mitigation packets we developed that resulted in families being able to change the outcome of their loved ones’ cases — from a packet of letters, to photo diaries, to a mini-documentary video that helps the court system see the full life of the person behind the case file. Thanks to San Mateo County’s Private Defender’s Program for acknowledging the role and value of community in advocating for loved ones in the courts!