Montgomery Co. wants to give $373K to help nonprofit’s fight in immigration court

WASHINGTON — Montgomery County Council members have indicated their support for a supplemental appropriation for a nonprofit that defends residents facing deportation in immigration court.

The bill that would funnel around $373,000 to the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, or CAIR Coalition, is the subject of a hearing in the Maryland county Tuesday night. As of Monday afternoon, dozens of people signed up to speak.

Last week, county council staff met with Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy to address his concerns about the exceptions in the legislation that would exclude some detainees from getting the legal aid if they had a criminal record.

“We need to work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” said CASA of Maryland Executive Director Gustavo Torres. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

The first draft of the special appropriation laid out list of crimes that would bar someone from getting legal assistance, but McCarthy said he was concerned the exclusions left out a number of serious crimes, including extortion and domestic abuse offenses. A county staff member said Monday that additional offenses would be added to the list of exceptions.

Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland, said of the appropriation: “We strongly support the county council decision to support our neighbors and our families. But it’s not just in Montgomery County; it’s happening all around the nation, in Prince George’s, in Baltimore City.”

Torres said the council is looking to assist immigrants facing deportation, despite the fact that some have lived in the county for decades and who Torres said “are making a contribution to our communities.”

To those who oppose the measure, Torres said, “We need to work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

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