Sacramento City Council members voted unanimously on Thursday to use at least $300,000 of taxpayer money to fund a network of legal, educational and faith-based nonprofit groups so that they can help illegal immigrants who face deportation.
“The reality is there is a lot of fear,” said Councilman Eric Guerra, adding, “We can alleviate that fear.”
One local elementary School Principal, Gema Godina, testified that illegal immigrants have asked her to take their children if they’re detained, and she has since agreed to be the legal guardian for five of her students.
Sacramento’s McGeorge School of Law’s immigration clinic will likely receive some of that funding. Professor Blake Nordahl told council members that many clients are now “afraid to bring kids to school” or report crimes.
According to Guerra, legal aid would primarily focus on creating legal guardianships for kids and powers of attorney to protect the homes and bank accounts of illegal immigrants.
Expecting pushback from legal residents, Mayor Darrell Steinberg commented that “we are not a city that will exchange people’s civil rights for money.”
Councilman Jeff Harris’ office has received calls protesting the measure, but only one person testified at the council meeting to voice her disgust.
Jennifer Garets, a board member of Sacramento Republican Women Federated, told council members, “I don’t think that taxpayer money should be used to support this. I’d rather it be given to the homeless.”
According to Guerra, however, illegal immigrants contribute to the local economy and often pay property and sales tax to the county. For this reason, he believes that they should have access to city-funded aid.
U.S. Census Bureau figures reveal that approximately 10 percent of Sacramento’s residents — 49,000 people — are not U.S. citizens, including about 4,100 children. It’s unknown how many of them are here illegally.
Illegal immigrants with violent criminal records will not be eligible for aid, said Steinberg, noting that those who commit minor offenses, such as DUIs or possession of marijuana, would still be helped. “The line, to me, is people who are a threat,” he noted.
In addition to providing funding for legal aid, Sacramento council members also made it illegal for city employees, including police, to inquire unnecessarily about anyone’s immigration status.
The Mexican consulate in Sacramento said it has received $250,000 this week from Mexico to help nationals in the region with legal costs and educational outreach. That aid comes from a $50 million fund that is being divided among the 50 Mexican consulates in the U.S., according to consular official Rodrigo Baez.
Other California cities have voted to use taxpayer dollars to aid illegal immigrants:
- Santa Clara County approved $1.5 million over two years.
- San Francisco set aside $200,000 for legal aid.
- Oakland allocated $300,000 to help its illegals.
- A public-private fund that could hold up to $10 million has been proposed for Los Angeles city and county.
Sacramento joined other local governments in filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration, which wants to block plans to cut federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions. A federal judge in San Francisco recently issued a temporary restraining order to do the same.
“This is in fact a moral issue,” claimed Steinberg. “What’s more important than ensuring that people who are threatened, people who are scared, people who just want to be part of us, that we provide them the legal protection they need?”
H/T: The Sacramento Bee
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