DC Immigration Service Providers Advocate for $1.8 million Immigrant Defense Fund

by Kathryn M. Doan, Esq.

CAIR Coalition has joined the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), Catholic Charities, Ayuda, Whitman Walker Health and the DMV Sanctuary Congregational Network in asking DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to fully fund immigration legal services in the District with $1.8 million dollars in recurring funds.

Like immigration legal service providers across the nation, those serving immigrants in DC are stretched beyond capacity, having to turn away hundreds of potential clients for lack of resources.  An infusion of $1.8 million would allow the legal service provider community to hire 18 additional attorneys and legal assistants who could serve an estimated 600 more immigrants a year, both detained and non-detained.

In our March 8, 2018 letter to Mayor Bowser, we pointed out that with detentions and deportations up 40% in the last year, funding DC’s immigration legal services is a moral and economic imperative. Immigrants comprise a large, culturally rich, and economically valuable segment of DC residents.   They are a community in crisis whose needs far out strip available legal resources. More than one in seven DC residents are immigrants. In addition, nearly 1,000 residents have applied for DACA and over 32,000 individuals in the DC metro area are TPS holders.

We applaud Mayor Bowser’s public commitment to DC as a Sanctuary City, and her creation of a $500,000 Immigrant Justice Legal Fund in 2017 was a positive first step in bridging the gap between need and available services.  However, it was not enough and significantly more funding needs to be made available in order to ensure that all DC immigrants have access to the legal services that can make the difference between deportation and remaining in the United States.

Write or call Mayor Bowser (eom@dc.gov or (202) 727- 2643) and your councilmember and encourage them to support and fund immigrant legal defense at $1.8 million for FY19!  This funding is critical to protecting our immigrant community members!


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