The recommendation comes seven months after the task force was created and at a time of heightened awareness over federal immigration policy.
A task force created to focus on the needs of immigrants and refugees in Tacoma has recommended the City Council spend $440,000 per year to establish a legal-defense fund for Tacoma residents detained at the Northwest Detention Center.
The money would pay for two attorneys and two paralegals who would represent people facing deportation, said Amanda Diaz, a member of the task force and student president at the University of Puget Sound. Another option would be to spend half that money for one lawyer and paralegal to provide some measure of legal representation to detained people, Diaz said.
The recommendation comes seven months after the task force was created and at a time of heightened awareness over federal immigration policy. Stepped-up deportation efforts that have followed President Donald Trump’s inauguration have created emotional and financial strain for many Tacoma families, she said.
Unlike in criminal cases where defendants are represented by a publicly funded attorney if they can’t afford one, people facing deportation are not guaranteed a lawyer, according to the American Immigration Council. This year, the city of Seattle committed $1 million to paying for legal defense for immigrants and refugees, and officials there said they would seek ways to continue that funding in the future.
Most Read Stories
Members of a Tacoma City Council committee who received the task force’s recommendation this month were receptive to the idea but not ready to implement it.
They requested more information from the task force and city staff about how the money would be spent.
“This is coming to us a little less fleshed out than we normally have policies coming to us. Normally we have a lot more of these questions answered,” Councilman…