(ESPAÑOL) 11 cities and counties will be joining the list of jurisdictions providing legal defense for immigrants at risk of deportation.
The Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit that researches and advocates changes in the criminal justice system, launched the Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Cities Network this past week. The cities and counties making up the network will be providing legal counsel for immigrants facing deportation proceedings.
Vera says it selected the jurisdictions for committing to invest public money toward defending immigrants against deportation. The nonprofit says it will use a fund it administers to match the public money.
“Immigration is part of our nation’s past, present, and future, and our communities will find more opportunities to grow and thrive when we recognize and embrace this fact,” Vera Institute President Nicholas Turner said in the statement. “That means that all residents must see their justice systems — from our law enforcement to our courts — as delivering on our country’s promise of fairness.”
The cities and counties making up the SAFE Cities Network are: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Dane County, Wis., Oakland and Alameda County, Calif., Prince George’s County, Md., Sacramento, San Antonio, Santa Ana, Calif.
They’re joining a growing list of cities and states with similar programs. Late last year and earlier this year, lawmakers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York City decided to allocate public funds for defense in immigration courts, while New York state created the first statewide immigrant defense fund.
It’s the latest move from cities and states looking to challenge the president’s immigration policies. President Trump vowed to deport millions of people in the country illegally. Cities that pledge to limit cooperation with federal immigration agents — “sanctuary cities” — have faced pressure from the Trump administration over much of the past year.
Providing legal counsel to undocumented immigrants does not mean they will be immune from deportation. But there’s evidence their likelihood of staying in the country will increase.