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Columbus City Council Will Create Undocumented Immigrant Legal Fund

Elizabeth Brown

On Monday, Columbus City Council voted to provide $185,000 to the Columbus Families Together Fund, aimed at supporting immigrants facing deportation. Council members say the goal is to prevent the separation of Central Ohio families if one or more members are living in the U.S. without proper residential status.

Council member Elizabeth Brown began organizing this fund in early 2017, after hearing local immigrants were being deported even if they had a clean criminal record and children who were U.S. citizens.

Now the project has come together with $185,000 in funding from the city. Specifically, the Council is tapping into the Public Safety sub-fund, which contains a total of $563,000 for supporting public safety initiatives.

An additional $100,000 in funding comes from the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York-based nonprofit, and will be independently allocated.

For the next three years, the Families Together Fund will support three local organizations that provide legal services within the immigrant and refugee community. Those recipients include the Council on American-Islamic Relations Ohio and Our Lady of Guadalupe Center of Catholic Social Services.

The largest amount of funding, $157,500, will go to Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, a nonprofit law firm. They educate detained persons on their rights under immigration law and provide legal representation to immigrants who are being deported but cannot afford a lawyer and have no violent felony convictions