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California lawmakers seek to fight Trump deportation efforts

By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - California lawmakers planned on Monday to introduce legislation that would help protect undocumented immigrants under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, who campaigned on hard-line promises of mass deportations.

The bills, if passed, would provide free legal services to undocumented immigrants facing deportation and assist them in criminal court, according to the California Democratic lawmakers introducing the proposals.

Trump, a Republican elected on Nov. 8, promised to deport a large chunk of the estimated 11 million migrants who are in the United States illegally.

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The California effort marks the first major state attempt at passing laws targeted at helping migrants since Trump's election, said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute office at the New York University School of Law.

The mayors of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have vowed to limit cooperation with federal authorities seeking to deport undocumented immigrants under the incoming Trump administration.

Two-thirds of detained immigrants facing deportation in California do not have attorneys, dramatically decreasing their chances of winning their cases, according to figures provided by the office of Kevin de Leon, California State Senate President pro Tempore.

"Throughout the presidential campaign and since, the President-elect has made many troubling statements that run counter to the principles that define California today," de Leon said in a statement.

"California celebrates diversity. We don't deport it," he said.

Both bills are likely to succeed, given Democratic control of California's state legislature and governor's office, Chishti said.

Trump, who has said Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals, vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and toughen rules on undocumented immigrants.

California is home to the most number of the nation's unauthorized immigrants, at three million, most of whom were born in Mexico, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)