A new program in the Baltimore Mayor’s Office would provide illegal immigrants with taxpayer-funded attorneys to fight against deportation orders.
All across the country, cities and municipalities are trying to stop the Trump administration from enforcing immigration laws and deporting people who are in the country illegally. Many cities are going down the route of cutting off all law enforcement cooperation with Federal immigration investigations. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh wants to take it one step further and start using taxpayer money and city resources to provide legal defenses to illegal immigrants facing deportation.
Catalina Rodriguez is the Director of the Mayor Pugh’s Office of Immigrant and Multi-Cultural Affairs. “The mayor’s position is everyone should have access to due process. Everyone should have the opportunity to tell their story in front of a judge with access to an attorney,” she explained in a statement.
Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been cracking down all across the country on illegal aliens with criminal records. Baltimore has not been spared. At least 28 immigrants who were in the United States illegally were arrested in Baltimore over a single weekend in September.
The mayor’s office envisions a new city program where immigrants facing deportation will receive free legal representation to fight to keep them in the country. One of the hopes is that if illegal aliens feel safe and secure, they will be more likely to cooperate with Baltimore police in active investigations. That is why the Baltimore Police Department has implemented a policy prohibiting officers from cooperating with Federal immigration investigations. When Mayor Pugh was asked about this policy back in January, she said that Baltimore was not a “sanctuary city,” but rather “a welcoming city.”
The new proposal, however, would make Baltimore one of just a handful of jurisdictions to use taxpayer money to help undocumented residents fight back against Federal deportation orders.
Most of the funding would come by way of grants from the Vera Institute of Justice, but that will not be enough to cover the entire program. At least 15 percent will have to come from taxpayer money. The initial budget is $100,000 for this “Safe City Baltimore” program, which city officials believe will help provide 40 immigrants with legal representation.
Oren Root, who is the Vera Institute of Justice Director, explained why he believes this program is essential. “The constitutional guarantee of due process applies to people residing in the U.S., including immigrants. Before we separate parents and children, before we remove someone who is a hard-working and valued member of our community, we must respect their rights.”
Not everyone, however, is sold on the idea of providing taxpayer-funded attorneys to help defend illegal aliens during their deportation proceedings. Nicolee Ambrose, a Republican National Committeewoman representing Maryland, said that she thought this new program was a joke when she first heard about it.
We keep being told in Baltimore that we cannot keep community neighborhood schools open, that we can’t keep rec centers open, that we can’t hire enough police officers,” Ambrose said. “I want solutions that solve our city’s problems instead of worrying about people who are not even citizens of this country.”
The Mayor’s office believes that they will be able to start providing this legal assistance next year and will begin accepting applications from immigrants shortly after the new year.
What do you think? Should taxpayer-funded attorneys be provided to people who aren’t even in the United States legally? Let us know in the comment section below!