BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The City of Baltimore recently announced plans to spend $200,000 to provide legal help to dozens of immigrants facing deportation amid the national immigration debate.
Immigration reform has been a top priority for the Trump administration.
In January, 21 people were arrested in Maryland as part of a nationwide raid for immigrant workers at 7-11 stores. Months before that 28 immigrants were arrested in the state as part of another crackdown.
“We know across the country, and right here in Baltimore, immigrants feel terrorized,” says Elizabeth Alex of Casa of Maryland.
Baltimore is now helping immigrants fight back against the justice system.
“We know that for many of these folks, the difference between being deported and being able to stay here will be access to legal counsel,” Alex said.
Legal help is on the way for 40 immigrants as part of the $200,000 plan, which was announced by city leaders last week.
“I think it sends a strong message that Baltimore is a city that stands by communities,” said Zainab Chaudry of CAIR Office in Maryland.
The Vera Institute of Justice, a New York-based non-profit organization, will provide half of the funds while the city will foot the bill for the other half.
But the move isn’t sitting well with everyone, including Maryland Republican Chairman Dirk Haire.
“I believe that the vast majority of Baltimore residents would prefer to have that money spent on heat and air conditioning in Baltimore Public Schools instead of legal fees,” he told WJZ.
Supporters of the plan believe it’s a cheaper solution than separating families and possibly having to care for children.
Lawyers from another non-profit will work on the cases. The same group is also helping immigrants in Prince George’s County.