Last updated on April 14th, 2019
A part of Virginia’s local government called Fairfax County is making great efforts in counteracting against the immigration policy put forward by the Trump administration.
Fairfax County a part of Washington and the northern Virginia is considering helping the illegal immigrants, fight deportation by creating a taxpayer-funded legal defense fund for them. The advocates in the Board of Supervisors hearing on Wednesday claimed that a proposed $200,000 pilot program would send a strong message that Virginia’s most populous jurisdiction does not agree with the increase in immigration arrests.
The legal-aid program aimed at assisting low-income immigrants both, the undocumented and those legally available in the country. It would also help in educating the eligible immigrants about their rights.
The data collected by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University in US discovered that about 12,000 Fairfax County residents were in deportation proceedings in 2018, which meant that a third of the county’s residents – approx. 1.1 million – have been immigrants.
The result of a poll conducted by University of California showed that six out of 10 voters in Fairfax approved of the county using funds to help the immigrants in deportation proceedings.
The low-income people are not entitled to a public defender for immigration proceedings as stated by the federal law. Thus, the spike in immigration arrests has spread fear amongst the local communities. To overcome this fear, many program associates as well as commoners have invested their tax money towards legal-aid programs. This would minimize the chances of deportation of immigrants and would help them to hire lawyers for themselves.
Apart from the Fairfax County, other counties that have contributed to the legal costs for fighting deportation are Prince George County and Arlington County that have granted $200,000 and $100,000 respectively for a year. Similarly, the city of Baltimore has a $200,000 legal defense fund for deportation cases.
Some critics believe that the tax revenue should benefit legal residents only, while others assumed that contributing to the legal-aid programs would be fair, as it would benefit the undocumented immigrants. Nicholas Marritz, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center, estimated that around 41,000 people in Virginia have been facing deportation.
McKay, who has been running to replace retiring board chairperson Sharon Bulova (D) in November, called the program “a social justice issue”. He argued that help-aids should be given to the ones who have been going through deportation proceeding unrelated to a crime or for a small violation of any rule.
There has been a lot of controversy regarding the use of tax money in deportation proceedings. Even though several groups backed out of participating in the legal-aid programs for undocumented immigrants, yet Fairfax County remains stern to its position. Another budget hearing would take place Thursday night and the final vote would come by the end of the month determining the future of migrants.