Portland City Council to vote on grant to help protect immigrants' rights

Portland City Council will vote next week on whether or not to help protect immigrants through a grant to the Metropolitan Public Defender for the non-profit law firm's new Immigrant Protection Project. Cosponsored by Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Mayor...

Portland City Council to vote on grant to help protect immigrants' rights

Portland City Council will vote next week on whether or not to help protect immigrants through a grant to the Metropolitan Public Defender for the non-profit law firm's new Immigrant Protection Project.

Cosponsored by Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Mayor Ted Wheeler, the $50,000 grant would help the firm provide immigrant communities with legal services, education on their rights and immigration law and individual casework.

"As an immigrant myself, I'm particularly sensitive to the rights of others," Fritz said. "People come to this country looking for justice, not violence and racism."

The nonprofit firm plans to spend $250,000 on the new immigration project, which would allow the organization to hire two full-time immigration attorneys.

"The $50,000 from the City of Portland will be a significant boost and help us as we approach others to support the project," the director of the nonprofit's community law division, Alex Bassos, said in a statement.

Fritz said she hopes the program will work with Portland United Against Hate, a community group set up to track and report hateful acts and to support communities in need. Fritz started the group under the New Portlanders Program for immigrants and refugees at the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, which she previously ran. Commissioner Chloe Eudaly now manages the neighborhood office.

Fritz also hopes it will encourage the efforts of the more than 100 Oregon attorneys who offered to volunteer their legal services after President Donald Trump signed an executive order pledging to strip funding from cities that won't help the federal government enforce immigration law.

"(With) all the frightening things coming down from the federal level, it's reassuring to know people in our community are willing to step up and protect all those in our community whose rights are being attacked," Fritz said.

This is the first of "a number of actions" the Portland City Council plans to take over the next few weeks to protect immigrants' rights, Fritz said.

"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," Wheeler said in a statement.

--Jessica Floum

jfloum@oregonian.com

503-221-8306

@cityhallwatch

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