Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan

As a child growing up in Boston, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan saw through her mother, a translator in immigration court, just how frightening the process can be.

“I could see how much help and solace that gave people,” Chan said during a Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday that included approval for $750,000 in one-time funds to help county immigrants with legal services. The grant was matched by the San Francisco Foundation.
Two weeks after the election of President Donald Trump, Chan began thinking about growing fears in immigrant communities and how the county could help. “My greatest fear was that a child would come home and find their parents detained or deported and have nowhere to go and just be left there,” she said.

“Everybody in this room knows we are a nation of immigrants, a state of immigrants and a county of immigrants,” Chan said. “Without the participation of immigrants in this country many of things that we appreciate and value would not have happened.”

Thirty percent of Alameda County residents were born in another country and more than half the children in Alameda County live in households with parents of mixed immigration.

Xenophobic language fostered by Trump and his supporters is on the rise, said Chan. “It’s a very dangerous time for immigrants. I think we know anybody could arbitrarily be targeted. I believe the county has a moral and practical obligation to protect our immigrant populations.”

Many immigrants may not understand that, despite their legal status, they nonetheless have certain rights, said Chan. The county funding will go toward helping immigrants with legal representation, translation and other services.