Stand Together Contra Costa essential to our immigrants

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Feb. 26, 2024) — When most people think of immigrant services, they think of federal government agencies like the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the Department of State. However, the county provides several services for immigrants, depending on their needs.

Spread across several departments, these services range from refugee resettlement to MediCal to legal help.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey, approximately 27% of our county’s population is foreign-born. Of that 27%, more than 40% are not U.S. citizens. That is a large portion of the population needing services.

Today, I am sharing information about our unique program for immigrant legal services known as Stand Together Contra Costa (STCC).

STCC started as a pilot program in the Contra Costa Public Defenders’ office in 2017. The proposal came at a time when immigrants in our community faced a lot of uncertainty and fear. STCC is a collaboration between the county and community-based organizations (CBOs) to provide immigrant legal services, community outreach, and public education to ensure immigrant families have access to accurate and trusted information.

Because immigration courts do not provide attorneys, many immigrants lack legal representation. Roughly 85% of people newly placed in removal proceedings are unrepresented, and they only win about 19% of the time.

STCC is the only program providing pro bono deportation defense legal services in Contra Costa County. When they bring legal representation, they win 80-90% of their cases. STCC offers free legal immigration consultations to community members who work, live or study in Contra Costa.

The program also provides a Rapid Response Hotline where community members can report suspected activity by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Live dispatchers staff the Rapid Response Hotline, and they will walk individuals through their rights and send a trained observer to verify ICE activity when necessary.

Outside of legal aid, STCC provides holistic services that connect non-citizen clients to resources and services through the county and CBOs. Through these partnerships, clients have access to mental health care, workforce development, youth enrichment, and senior and children support services. Later this year, STCC will be hosting community engagement and resource events throughout the county.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Justice Department opened a new immigration court in Concord, with 21 courtrooms to process cases. During the budget hearings last year, my colleagues and I believed it was necessary to expand STCC’s capacity to meet the need and allocated $850,000 in additional funding to hire more attorneys to address the waitlist.

With the new court opening, I thought it was important for our immigrant community to know about these services and increase their access. So, I allocated an additional $50,000 for specific outreach in District IV.

STCC is an important program to ensure that our immigrant community feels included, welcome and safe in Contra Costa. Immigrants are part of the fabric that makes our community an extraordinary place.

For more information on this program, visit

Ken Carlson is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to Carlson at or call his office at 925-655-2350.