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$750,000 defense fund for immigrants, refugees proposed by King County Council

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SEATTLE — King County executives have proposed a one-time $750,000 legal defense fund for immigrants and refugees and help protect them “amid rising fear.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the plan Wednesday that he said would provide rapid response services for immigrants and refugees, including a fund that will help residents navigate the naturalization process and help support community rights organizations.

The money will come from a 2016 budget surplus that was not allocated for any specific purpose, Constantine said.

The funding proposal would need to be approved by the full county council.

"People in our community are afraid - afraid for their human rights, their families, and their safety," Constantine said. "Our message to the White House, the country, and the rest of the world is clear: We proudly uphold the fundamental American promise that we are - and will be - a nation of hope, freedom, and opportunity for all."

Constantine said the King County Immigrant and Refugee Commission will be staffed and operational later this year.

Part of the fund would also go to ensure county facilities are ready, safe and equipped to assist immigrants and refugees. Some of the fund would go to purchasing signs in multiple languages that let "everyone know that 'All Are Welcome Here,'" Constantine said.

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after a man brought to the U.S. illegally as a child but protected from deportation by the Obama administration was arrested by ICE officials in Seattle became national news.