Seattle City Council approves $1M legal defense fund for immigrants, refugees; King County OKs $750K

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council on Monday unanimously approved a $1 million legal defense fund for immigrants and refugees who live or work in the city. The King County Council passed $750,000 for similar legislation.

President Donald Trump’s executive orders “will dramatically increase the number of people seeking legal representation in courts,” according to the Seattle City Council’s website, and “immigrants & refugees have no legal right to representation in immigration court.”

The sponsors of the ordinance, council members Lorena Gonzalez and Tim Burgess, said that nearly 1 in 5 residents in Seattle is foreign-born, and that the Seattle area is among the 20 U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest populations of undocumented immigrants.

The King Council Council on Monday also approved a $750,000 fund to support key immigrant and refugee serving organizations throughout the county.

According to the county council, the funds will be distributed in three main areas:

  • $300,000 to support organizations that are providing legal aid to immigrants in immigration proceedings;
  • $100,000 to support organizations that “ensure culturally accessible, relevant information is readily available – efforts such as holding ‘Know your Rights’ trainings for interested communities, and learning opportunities for members outside of ethnic communities to learn about the cultures of their neighbors”;
  • $350,000 to partner with the Seattle Foundation to develop the “Resilience Fund,” a collaborative fund into which other public or private funders can invest to enhance the capacity and resiliency of community based organizations in at-risk communities.