The city council of Columbus, Ohio, voted on Monday to pay $185,000 to three civic organizations to provide legal counsel to immigrants facing deportation. Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown (D) helped to establish the fund and raise additional money in response to President Donald Trump’s first executive order that sought to temporarily ban immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc. (ABLE), a nonprofit affiliated with Legal Aid of Western Ohio, will receive the lion’s share of taxpayers’ money: $157,500. ABLE will use the funds to inform immigrants about their rights and also represent immigrants in Columbus who are facing deportation proceedings at the Cleveland Immigration Court. Preference will be given to the cases of immigrants who have children. ABLE is providing matching funds of of about $115,000. The group will provide educational sessions and materials at a Butler County lockup, where it will seek clients.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations will receive $17,500 of the funds, while Catholic Social Services’ Our Lady of Guadalupe Center will receive $10,000 for “legal services that help keep families together in the central Ohio immigrant and refugee communities.” Councilwoman Brown said on Monday that the two smaller grants will fund “know your rights” educational sessions in Columbus. The two groups will thus be able to expand their reach, due to the funding from the city. “We’re sending a signal here tonight. We value our immigrants. We welcome you. We know that the demonization of immigrants throws them into the shadows and makes a class of silent victims. We won’t allow it,” Brown said.