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Local officials pour $100,000 grant into funding legal services for Dane County immigrants

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced a new initiative, funded by a $100,000 grant from the Vera Institute of Justice, to help the local immigrant community access legal resources.

Image By: Thomas Yonash

A new grant announced Tuesday by county officials could assist undocumented community members by providing legal representation to those facing deportation hearings.

The Vera Institute of Justice awarded $100,000 to the Immigrant Justice Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School and Community Immigration Law Center after the county worked closely with the Immigration Coalition to compete for the funding.

“Our immigrant neighbors deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Too many immigrant families are living in fear and may not have the resources needed to obtain citizenship or navigate various legal processes. We’re here to say, ‘You are welcome here and we want to help you realize your dreams.’”

Earlier this year, Parisi proposed an Immigrant Assistance Fund that would aid undocumented individuals with issues they are currently facing such as legal assistance, gaining citizenship, refugee related issues, abuse and exploitation. The County Board supported the action and also reached out to the Vera Institute for support.

“The Dane County Board encouraged the partnership with The Vera Institute, and also added county resources to the Immigration Assistance Fund, in order to keep our families and communities safe,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan.

The Vera Institute is also providing technical assistance to the Dane County Coalition and independent legal service providers.

“The constitutional guarantee of due process applies to people residing in the U.S., including immigrants,” said Oren Root, Director of the Center on Immigration and Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice. “Before we separate parents and children, before we remove someone who is a hard-working and valued member of our community, we must respect their rights.”

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