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Montgomery County could offer legal aid to those facing deportation

"We value all of our residents in Montgomery County," Council President Hans Riemer said Monday. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Montgomery County’s council is considering a $373,000 special appropriation that would go toward legal representation for county residents who face deportation due to their immigration status.

Unlike in criminal court, where defendants have a Sixth Amendment right to counsel if they cannot afford one, there is no such constitutional protection in immigration court, Council President Hans Riemer said.

The legal assistance would be restricted to those who can’t afford their own legal help and those who do not have a prior conviction for what Riemer called “serious” infractions, including violent crimes.

Asked Monday why he thought the county should award the special appropriation, Riemer said: “Because we value all of our residents in Montgomery County. We want everyone to have opportunities, and we want to support our families.”

Montgomery County is home to a sizable “new immigrant” community, Riemer said — “and we are there for them.”

The appropriation would be granted in what Riemer called the “launch” of an effort to provide legal help to detainees through a nonprofit. The Capital Area Immigrant’s Rights Coalition provides help to people being detained in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. On its website, the coalition said that many of the people it helps are long-term permanent residents of the United States.

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. May 1 .


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