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County Council Set to Spend $373K on Legal Fees for Illegal Residents Facing Deportation

On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council introduced a special appropriation of $373,957 to the County’s fiscal year 2018 budget that would be used to fund legal representation for residents who are detained because of deportation proceedings. The funding would go to the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition to represent low-income County residents in deportation proceedings. A public hearing on the special appropriation is scheduled for May 1.

“Across the U.S. we have heard accounts of residents being put into detention and deported who own homes, run their own businesses and have employees who rely upon them, and are forced to leave their families behind, including children who in many cases are citizens,” said Council President Hans Riemer. “This is our County’s attempt to ensure that all residents have the opportunity to protect their rights and ensure they are aware and able to assert any options that they have under the law.”

“More than a year ago I asked my Council colleagues and the County Executive to come up with a Critical Response Plan in response to draconian immigration policies coming from the federal government,” said Council Vice President Nancy Navarro. “This plan included looking into establishing a legal defense fund. Out of this discussion we created the Resiliency Fund—a collaborative partnership of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, the Meyer Foundation and individual donors. To date, the Resiliency Fund has disbursed grants to 10 organizations working in the areas of immigrant rights, grassroots community engagement and anti-bullying and anti-bigotry. Today we have doubled down on our commitment to protect our immigrant community. I am proud that we have introduced a special appropriation to provide legal representation to immigrants in deportation proceedings.”

Deportation proceedings are one of the few types of legal proceedings where people are routinely detained and are often required to litigate their case without an attorney. According to the Vera Institute, which analyzed data from the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, legal representation increased the chance that a non-citizen would receive a successful immigration court outcome by more than 1,000 percent. Legal representation in these proceedings also has helped to reunite and preserve families and enabled individuals to retain legal work authorizations.