City Commissioner Amanda Fritz is proposing a concrete financial step toward establishing the city's reputation as a haven for immigrants.
In a proposal that is backed by Mayor Ted Wheeler and will likely win the support of City Council next week, Fritz wants to provide $50,000 to Metropolitan Public Defenders to help with immigration cases.
"Metropolitan Public Defenders will work in the community through community-based organizations to help individuals and families with immigration cases, record clearing, family safety plans and protection from victimization," said defense lawyer Alex Bassos.
Wheeler has previously pledged to maintain Portland's status as a sanctuary city, meaning law enforcement won't help with Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests for keeping people in jail based solely on their immigration status.
"The Mayor and I are committed not only to be a sanctuary city, but to also be a welcoming city," said Fritz. Here's her full press release.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz announced today that she has filed an ordinance, cosponsored by Mayor Ted Wheeler, that will provide a grant of $50,000 to the Metropolitan Public Defender (MPD) for their newly formed Immigrant Protection Project. The project will provide legal services to immigrant communities in Portland through individual casework, as well as providing general information about immigration law and rights of individuals in the community.
“Immigrant and refugee families in the community are terrified and need immediate help determining what threats exist and preparing a legal plan for their safety and protection. Metropolitan Public Defender will work in the community through community-based organizations to help individuals and families with immigration cases, record clearing, family safety plans and protection from victimization” stated Alex Bassos, Director of Community Law Division for MPD.
“The Mayor and I are committed not only to be a sanctuary city, but to also be a welcoming city” said Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “By this action, we are putting City resources behind our words to protect the most vulnerable members of our community. Although the Courts are currently ruling against the Executive Order limiting entry, it is clear that there will be many attacks on constitutional rights in the next four years.”
“The directives coming out of Washington DC on immigration are disturbing and many members of our community are living in fear. This grant is a concrete step we can take to provide the legal advice and services that these vulnerable Portlanders need to protect their rights”, stated Mayor Ted Wheeler.
Metropolitan Public Defender has set a budget of $250,000 for the project, which would allow the organization to hire two full-time immigration attorneys and support staff. “The $50,000 from the City of Portland will be a significant boost and help us as we approach others to support this project” Bassos said.
Many organizations have endorsed the project including, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon, Oregon Law Center, Immigrant Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), Unite Oregon, Causa, Latino Network, and the Oregon Latino Health Coalition.
Portland City Council will hear the ordinance Wednesday morning, February 15 on the regular morning agenda.