Bleeding the taxpayers dry.
A task force created to focus on the needs of immigrants and refugees in Tacoma has recommended that the City Council spend $440,000 per year to establish a legal-defense fund for Tacoma residents detained at the Northwest Detention Center on the Tideflats.
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 body 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 come in the wake of President Donald Trump’s inauguration have created serious 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. […]
Task force members also recommended that the city create a standing commission on immigration and refugee affairs that would deal with issues unique to that community.
They also asked the City Council to take immediate steps to provide equitable language access for a variety of languages across all city services. Access to language and translation services was identified last year as a major barrier Latino residents face while working to integrate into Tacoma life, council members pointed out.