As conversation on immigration reform at the federal level intensifies, the Dane County Board of Supervisors moved forward with programs aimed at facilitating the process for undocumented immigrants to become legal citizens.

The board approved a resolution at their Thursday evening meeting to fine-tune funding for the citizenship assistance service, as well as resolutions to continue dealing with the heroin epidemic and issues with homelessness.

According to the resolution, Dane County will establish an immigration assistance fund and provide $150,000 for it.

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Dane County reached out to local legal service providers such as the University of Wisconsin Law School Immigration Justice Center and Jewish Social Services of Madison for their help to create an effective approach to emergency immigration assistance.

Legal service providers will work with the Madison Community Foundation to decide how money from the fund will be spent.

After attending a conference in New York about immigration policy, Sup. Carousel Bayrd, District 8, said she was able to see some of the work other cities and counties were doing in the U.S. and compare it to her and her colleagues’ work at home.

“We should be really proud of the leadership that we’re doing,” Bayrd said. “What I’m really impressed with this resolution is the comprehensiveness of it.”

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Several state and county departments will work to do research to understand what role Dane County should play in supporting immigrants, according to the resolution.

Sup. Jenni Dye, District 33, said many organizations have spoken in favor of this resolution. The legislative process may be difficult at times, Dye said, but she said she is glad people have come together to make the resolution.

“We don’t often do thing like this,” Dye said. “I’m really proud to be on a body and with my community where we can come together to do the right thing and help the people that need it.”

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In addition to approving the immigration resolution, the board also voted to accept a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Justice for the Dane County Narcotics Task Force.

The $132,211 grant from the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program will help pay for overtime costs for the task force. It will also help pay for collection of data and information.

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The board also approved two separate resolutions aimed at helping poor and homeless people.

The first resolution approved a project to build more affordable housing at 7933 Tree Lane in Madison. The building will have 19 two-bedroom units, 23 three-bedroom units and three four-bedroom units.

The project is expected to being in spring 2017 and will cost nearly $11.7 million. Dane County will pay $1 million for the project and the city of Madison will pay $1.615 million.

The second resolution awarded a contract for the day resource center on East Washington Avenue in Madison. The center is expected to open this summer.

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