Seattle could create its own legal defense fund for immigrants

Seattle officials may take their support for immigrants and refugees a step further. During a meeting Monday, City Councilmember Lorena González said local government needs to do more to help people facing uncertainty.

González: "Particularly of interest to me is the establishment of a legal defense fund where we can allocate public monies to be able to assist families that might be separated as the results of harsh immigration enforcement under a Trump administration."

There are similar legal funds in the state of New York and other cities including Chicago, San Francisco and L.A. In those cities, the money is used to provide legal representation, consulting and advice for people at risk for deportation. The money comes from a mix of city dollars and private donations. Los Angeles’ fund started out with $10 million.

González says she is discussing the topic with Mayor Ed Murray's office. Neither of their offices are providing details at this time on how the fund would work.

Seattle is considered a "welcoming city" for immigrants and refugees, and police officers have agreed not to ask people about their immigration status. Last week, Murray and González announced the city is setting aside $250,000 to help unauthorized immigrant students and their families.