DANE COUNTY ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH THE VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE TO ASSIST IMMIGRANTS
September 19, 2017
Colleen Clark-Bernhardt Dane County Equity and Criminal Justice Council Coordinator 608.266.3022
$100,000 grant will augment local efforts
In an effort to keep Dane County safe and secure and to protect the well-being of local residents, county officials and the Dane County Immigration Coalition announced today a new initiative to provide legal representation to immigrants facing deportation hearings. Dane County was chosen as one of twelve jurisdictions to be part of the Vera Institute of Justice’s national initiative called the Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Cities Network. This partnership, combined with funds and personnel the county previously committed to immigrant support, will promote a more fair and just Dane County.
The Vera Institute of Justice is awarding $100,000 to two area legal service providers: Immigrant Justice Clinic at the UW-Law School and Community Immigration Law Center (CILC). Dane County worked closely with the Immigration Coalition to compete for this national funding. It represents Dane County’s commitment and belief that regardless of whether an immigrant will ultimately stay in the U.S. or leave, the fairest and most efficient way to uphold due process is to ensure legal representation for those whose future may well depend on it.
“Our immigrant neighbors deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Too many immigrant families are living in fear and may not have the resources needed to obtain citizenship or navigate various legal processes. We’re here to say, you are welcome here and we want to help you realize your dreams.”
This partnership, combined with the immigrant assistance fund and services, will enhance the lives of our immigrant community. Earlier this year, Dane County Executive Parisi proposed the creation of an Immigrant Assistance Fund. The County Board of Supervisors embraced and augmented funding for this proposal, including reaching out to the Vera Institute for their support and expertise. The purpose of the Dane County Immigrant Assistance Fund, managed by the Madison Community Foundation is to assist immigrants with the many emergency issues they're currently facing, including, but not limited to, legal assistance, help with gaining citizenship, refugee related issues, abuse and exploitation.
Donate to the fund at www.madisongives.org/immigrantassistance
“I am proud that Dane County is committed to upholding the American values of respecting the rights and dignity of every resident,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan. “The Dane County Board encouraged the partnership with The Vera Institute, and also added county resources to the Immigration Assistance Fund, in order to keep our families and communities safe.”
The Vera Institute is also providing the Dane County Immigration Coalition and independent legal service providers with technical assistance and support, including providing information on best legal practices, opportunities to share best practices with other jurisdictions, and data collection and research support, with an eye toward evaluation.
“The constitutional guarantee of due process applies to people residing in the U.S., including immigrants. Before we separate parents and children, before we remove someone who is a hard-working and valued member of our community, we must respect their rights,” said Oren Root, Director of the Center on Immigration and Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice.