Madison officials and the Dane County Immigration Coalition convened in Madison City Hall on Tuesday morning to announce the award of a $100,000 grant from — and partnership with — the Vera Institute of Justice, to better assist immigrants.
The coalition wants to provide immigrants with better access to legal resources, especially for immigrants who fear deportation, through a plan called the Immigrant Assistant Fund. They reiterated on Tuesday that immigrant communities are vital in uniting the Madison community.
“Let us not forget, we need them as much as they need us,” Parisi said.
The grant is a part of a greater national initiative run by the Vera Institute of Justice called the Safety and Fairness for Everyone cities network. SAFE strives to offer legal representation for immigrants threatened by deportation.
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Dane County officials discussed the importance of being a unified community, especially in times of increasing hostility towards the immigrant community.
“[We are] one community made up of many. While we are diverse, we are also one,” Parisi said.
The officials hope that by increasing funding for immigration programs in the area, the quality of life for immigrant populations will be improved.
Both Dane County and the Immigration Coalition believe even if an immigrant must be deported, they deserve fair legal representation while residing in the U.S. If granted permission by the U.S. government to stay, Dane County and the Immigration Coalition want to help immigrants gain citizenship and avoid discrimination.
“We are sending a clear message that we care about our immigrant community and that we stand with them not only in word, but in deed,” Parisi said.
The $100,000 grant will be given to the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Immigration Justice Clinic and the Madison Community Immigration Law Center, who will together provide immigrants with vital legal advice and representation so their future and legal decisions are under their control. Dane County was one of only twelve jurisdictions nationwide to receive the grant.
Other community members showed up to the meeting to show their support including executive director of Centro Hispano, Karen Menendez Coller, who voiced her support for the immigration grant.
“What will be most important to us today and always is that our families are protected,” Coller said.
The funding is scheduled to arrive from the Vera Institute of Justice by next month. Private donors are encouraged to donate at www.madisongives.org/immigrantassistance.