HOUSTON — A new program to provide legal defense for local immigrants was approved Tuesday in a 3-2 vote by the Harris County commissioners court, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo proposed the program, which will provide them an attorney for their federal immigration court hearing. Currently, the system does not appoint them an attorney.
“I have seen the impact of a federal immigration system that is so broken and convoluted folks are desperate to have an answer to their case,” Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo has asked the community services department to come up with a plan that would detail the program. But they hope to partner with nonprofits and other philanthropic organizations.
“The idea we have is to be some sort of income threshold a limit perhaps of 200 percent of the poverty level to work with nonprofits and partners to identify the folks that needs these kinds of services. Find a way to prioritize,” Hidalgo said.
Even though they know they won’t be able to help everyone, they hope they can help some of the families who need it the most.
“Houston-area immigrants paid over $1 billion in taxes. These are undocumented immigrants, clear fiscal reason to keep folks here that have a rightful claim,” Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo estimates the program would cost $1.5 million and hopes to have something within in 6 months to a year. Once the plan is completed, it will be presented to commissioners court, and it’ll be up to them to make a decision.
Residents against this program say it is “unfair.” They say that money should be used for other programs.
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