WASHINGTON - Last year, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Washington D.C. would remain a "sanctuary city" to help protect undocumented immigrants. She is backing up that effort and pledging to spend taxpayer money to help D.C. residents pay for legal fees fighting against deportation.
Mayor Bowser is pledging $500,000 to a grant program to help D.C. residents and their children with all issues involving the immigration process. It will help people with green cards to become U.S. citizens and it will also help provide representation for immigrants in deportation proceedings.
"We want to make a program that is going to serve the needs of D.C. residents and we are looking forward to partnering with community organizations that do this kind of work in D.C. already and making sure they have the resources that they need to work with D.C. residents," Bowser said at Gallaudet University as she also released her Two-Year Transition Plan Accountability Report on her administration's efforts during the last two years she has been in office.
The District of Columbia is just one of several cities across the country that opposed president-elect Donald Trump's campaign promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, specifically those with criminal records.
"This is certainly an effort to address what we have seen as anxiety and fear among D.C. residents and we want them to have the tools that they need to feel safe in D.C.," the mayor said.
In a press release from the mayor's office, the Immigrant Justice Legal Services (IJLS) grant program will help fund organizations that:
- Help DC residents convert green cards to citizenship
- Renew DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) applications and work permits for DC residents
- Conduct Know Your Rights briefings and workshops
- Help prepare asylum applications and provide legal representation at hearings for DC residents
- Represent DC residents in deportation proceedings
- Protect financial assets and custody for DC children in the face of potential deportation of parents or guardians
- Help people and businesses conduct affairs through ITIN numbers
- File any lawsuits that may become necessary to challenging the use of DACA applications for finding or deporting undocumented persons
- Help file applications for S, T, U and Special Immigrant Juvenile visas for DC residents or family members of DC residents
- Provide legal help for family reunification efforts for families with at least one DC resident