Mayor Catherine Pugh announced Thursday plans to provide increased support for immigrants facing deportation proceedings.
Baltimore is one of 11 jurisdictions that joined to form the SAFE Cities Network, a group devoted to providing publicly-funded legal representation for immigrants threatened with deportation. Prince George’s County is also part of the national network, which is supported by grant money from the Vera Institute of Justice.
“Our community is safest when our neighbors trust their officials and institutions and know they will be treated justly and with dignity,” Pugh said in a news release. “Providing legal representation to those facing deportation maintains trust in law enforcement and our local institutions and keeps us all safe. If our residents don’t feel safe – for example, coming forward to report crimes and cooperating with law enforcement – all of us are at more risk.”
Under the initiative — a continuation of the Safe City Baltimore program launched earlier this year — the city will provide money for attorneys to represent detained Baltimore residents during deportation hearings. The city plans to put up $100,000, which will be supplemented by matching funds collected by the Vera Institute, said Catalina Rodriguez Lima, director of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs. The combined pot of money should help about 40 people obtain legal representation.