The Seattle City Council and Metropolitan King County Council each approved allocations Monday to help people defend themselves in immigration court.
The Seattle City Council on Monday voted to create a $1 million legal-defense fund for immigrants whom the federal government attempts to deport.
And the Metropolitan King County Council approved $750,000 for immigrant and refugee programs, including $300,000 for the defense of people in immigration court.
The city and county will distribute the money to nonprofit organizations such as the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project to do the legal work.
City and county leaders have said local immigrant families need the help because of President Donald Trump’s plan to step up deportations.
Immigration-court cases are civil proceedings because living in the country illegally is a civil violation rather than a criminal one.
Unlike in criminal cases, people who can’t afford to hire an attorney for immigration court aren’t guaranteed a public defender.
More than one-third of people with immigration-court cases in Seattle and more than 90 percent of those with cases in Tacoma lack legal representation, according to Councilmember M. Lorena González, who proposed the city fund with Councilmember Tim Burgess.
People convicted of crimes wouldn’t be excluded from getting support through the city’s fund in their unrelated immigration-court cases, according to Gonzalez and Burgess.
Burgess said Monday that everyone should be afforded due process, including people facing potential deportation.
The city’s fund is separate from $250,000 Seattle is spending to help immigrants and refugees navigate life under Trump, with a focus on children in the city’s public schools.
Mayor Ed Murray and County Executive Dow Constantine are expected to sign off on the funds.