US

Sanctuary Cities Raise Legal Defense Funds For Illegal Immigrants

Cities across the country that offer illegal immigrants “sanctuary” from deportation by federal authorities announced this week that millions of dollars in legal defense funds have been raised to assist these immigrants, the watchdog group Judicial Watch reported Thursday.

The Chicago City Council approved a $1.3 million legal defense fund to aid illegal immigrants facing deportation last Tuesday. Less than a week later, Los Angeles city officials revealed Wednesday their fund has more than seven times the money of Chicago.

The funds were established in preparation for the incoming administration of Donald Trump, who has pledged to deport more illegal immigrants and punish sanctuary cities who refuse to cooperate with federal authorities.

Chicago alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who admitted he likely has illegal aliens working in his city office, told ABC Chicago 7, “Donald Trump, we are sending you a message, you will not tear apart our families, we will stay together. We will defend and protect our communities.”

Judicial Watch notes the funds to defend illegal immigrants for violating federal statutes will come from Chicago property tax rebate funds.

It should be noted, however, that another Chicago alderman, who represents the city’s South Side, believes the money should go toward communities of color that she represents first.

“I’d like to see the administration put the same amount of effort into creating a legal representation fund for all of those young black boys and black girls that are racially profiled in this city or are shot by the police unnecessarily or to support programs like CeaseFire to quell some of the violence in our community,” Alderman Pat Dowell tald The Chicago Sun Times.

She added, “When the mayor talks about wanting to keep the immigrant communities safe, secure and supported, those are the same needs that other communities have. … To raise the immigrant communities’ issues to the forefront, I think is something we should do. But, I’d like to see the same attention to some needs we have in our community.”

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed last month a new “public/private legal defense fund” that would be available to immigrants who cannot afford legal services. The plan, according to The Buffalo News, will be included in his proposed 2017 state budget.

Follow Kerry on Twitter