Immigrant Rights

Photo by David Choy

FY23 Budget Asks ->

$5 million for Immigrant Justice Legal Services (ILS) grant program to support 2500 immigrant clients a year

FY23 Budget Results – >

$3.5 million for immigrant legal services.

Support Expanded and Long Term Funding of Immigrant Legal Services in DC

No matter our differences, most of us want pretty similar things.  DC has over 70,000 immigrant families that have moved here from Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean and all over the world to make a better life for themselves and their families. Today our good neighbors who work, run businesses, and contribute to the culture of our city are under attack by reactionary and untested federal immigration policies. For example, the current administration has ended Temporary Protective Status (TPS)  meaning many immigrants families that have lived and worked in DC legally and paid taxes for decades may lose their work permits and legal status. While those families may never have needed to see an immigration lawyer in the past, they all may need to see an immigration lawyer by 2019 to figure out if they are eligible for another pathway to legal status. Studies show that immigrants who obtain legal counsel are much more likely find relief instead of facing deportation. We need DC leaders to step up to protect our neighbors by expanding legal services so that all DC immigrants who need to, can see a lawyer and figure out pathways to legal status for them and their children.

WIN institutions are pressing for funding for immigrant legal services to:

  1. Be Significantly Expanded to $2.5M+ per Year

This money would support immigration legal service providers to hire more lawyers given the thousands of immigrant families who now need to see a lawyer. This would leverage existing resources already committed by legal clinics and nonprofit providers to exponentially increases access to justice for immigrants in DC.  Also, expanding non-profit legal services will prevent immigrant families from notario fraud where they are exploited by people posing as lawyers.  In 2017, DC appropriated $500,000 for expanding legal services. While helpful, this divided between 10 groups led to very few lawyers actually being hired. $2.5 M per year will allow current non-profit legal services providers to hire more lawyers and paralegals to tangibly increase capacity to serve more families.

  1. Have a Long-Term Commitment

By nature, immigration cases are slow moving and highly specialized. We need:

  • A verbal commitment to sustain funding for at least the next four years
  • Consider having the DC Bar Foundation administer this money as they already do  with other legal services
  1. Include Representation for People Who are Currently Detained

If a US citizen is arrested they have a right to a lawyer. But if an immigrant is detained in DC, even if wrongfully arrested, they are not ensured a lawyer.   Legal representation for those who have already been detained is more expensive, but it can be critical to ensuring parents are not separated from children and other bad outcomes. We believe everyone has a right to due process. Everyone, means everyone.  DC can ensure that new funds for legal services includes funding for detainees.

Photo by David Choy of Ward 1 Candidate Action on April 26th 2018

WIN leaders and organizers are in the midst of a 1,000+ person listening campaign to identify specific demands.
If you are interested in leading or attending a house meeting, please contact your core team leader or organizer for more information on how to get started.