This Seattle lawmaker wants $1 million legal fund for immigrants | KUOW News and Information

This Seattle lawmaker wants $1 million legal fund for immigrants

Mar 30, 2017

Seattle officials are taking their support for immigrants and refugees a step further: They want to create a $1 million legal defense fund to help people facing deportation.

Seattle would join other cities that have created similar programs, including Los Angeles and New York, in reaction to stricter federal immigration enforcement.

Seattle Councilmember Lorena González said the fund is one way Seattle can assist families who might be separated.

On why González is proposing the legal defense fund:

"The fear that's produced in a community when they hear even a whisper that ICE might be doing raids is palpable. Even if they are arrested by ICE and detained, at the very least, they will have some form of access to a legal representative who will fight for them."

On limits to how this funding could be used:

"The only limitation will be whether a person can afford to hire their own legal representation. Regardless of what their history is, they'll have a fighting chance to defend against the government's case. The government is fully lawyered up throughout the entire process. This is about leveling the playing field for people who aren't able to access the funds to hire their own attorney."

On her message to Seattleites who don't want the city to spend $1 million dollars on this legal fund:

"We are a country that's based on the democratic principles of due process, and that includes having legal representation in a proceeding that has severe consequences on your life. It's unconscionable that people - including children don't have a right to have legal counsel in immigration proceedings.

"This money will give people a fair shot at defending themselves by having a legal representative standing with them, just like the government does."

The full city council will vote on the proposal on April 17.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.