Members of the local immigrant community will see new public resources available when applying for U.S. citizenship after Dane County’s legislative body unanimously passed a resolution Thursday, authorizing funds to be used for a project introduced last month.
The project, led by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, sets up a fund to help county residents apply for citizenship and creates a new position at the Department of Human Services that will focus on improving community access to citizenship resources.
A local organization, selected by the county, will receive the $150,000 Immigration Assistance Fund. The new DHS position will focus on ensuring community access to public and nonprofit resources for obtaining citizenship.
Amending the county’s 2017 operating budget was the final step in the board approval process.
This is the fourth immigration-related resolution passed by the county board following the election of President Donald Trump, who in his first few weeks in office passed several executive orders tightening citizenship rules. Requests by community organizations for legal assistance with citizenship issues have since increased, according to county officials.
“We don’t often do things like this mid-year,” said County Supervisor Jenni Dye, District 33. “It’s really unfortunate that we are in a position to be doing this mid-year when it’s so direly needed by so many in our community.”
Parisi has also said the initiative was introduced in response to Trump’s immigration policies.
“Real people, working hard every day to raise their kids and support their families are unnecessarily living in fear and looking for reasons for hope,” Parisi said in a statement. “By starting up a fund for the community to build upon and dedicating a new county position to connect those in need of services to help that’s available, we’re responding to the unnerving and uninformed policies coming from Washington D.C.”