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County Council Plans Public Hearing on Legal Fees for Residents Facing Deportation

The County Council has scheduled a public hearing on a special appropriation that would provide funding for legal assistance to “Residents Detained for Deportation Proceedings.”

The hearing will be held Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 7:30 pm on the proposal to appropriate $374,957 from the general fund’s undesignated reserve.

The special appropriation was introduced April 17 and, if approved, would go to the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition to represent low-income county residents in deportation proceedings.

“This is our opportunity as a County to act morally in the face of injustice at the federal level,” said Councilmember Marc Elrich. “The mere notion that we would allow children to stand before an immigration judge as their own counsel would be laughable, if it weren’t true. It is the right thing to do. It’s important to note that this is being done with great care and attention to ensure that we are helping those who live among us as productive, contributing members of our community.”

The coalition estimated that there would be between 85 and 90 detained individuals who will receive legal services. The coalition would not be able to use the funds to represent anyone who has a final criminal conviction for certain serious felonies.

“It is important for us to stand with our immigrant community, while the Trump administration is trying to divide us,” said Councilmember Craig Rice. “What many don’t realize is in the criminal justice system, if you can’t afford an attorney, you get a public defender. In immigration court, you don’t. This is just about fairness to our immigrant communities.”

The hearing will be held in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. Those interested in testifying can start signing up online or by calling 240.777.7803. The deadline to sign up is May 1 at 10:00 am.

Photo United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office in DeKalb County, Georgia. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons