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Mayor Durkan and Executive Constantine Announce Expanded Seattle-King County Immigrant Legal Defense Network Grantees

SEATTLE (May 29, 2019) – Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the grantees of the Expanded Seattle-King County Immigrant Legal Defense Network (ELDN). The ELDN grants $5.6 million to community-based organizations working to provide legal services to immigrants and refugees at risk of deportation. 

In 2017, Seattle and King County established the first Legal Defense Network, a partnership to respond to increases in both anti-immigrant rhetoric and immigration enforcement under the Trump administration.

From October 2017 to April 2019, Legal Defense Network partners have utilized $1.8 million to:

  • Screen 1,072 individuals;
  • Conduct 885 intake assessments;
  • Provide direct representation for 357 individuals, and place another 12 with pro bono attorneys; and
  • Provide legal advice to an additional 339 individuals.

“The Trump administration views immigrants and refugees as a threat to our country. He is wrong. Here in Seattle, we have always welcomed people who have faced tremendous hardships around the world. Immigrants and refugees are part of Seattle’s heritage, and they will continue to make us the city of the future,” said Mayor Durkan. “The Seattle-King County Expanded Legal Defense Network is a critical tool to fight for the rights and dignities of our immigrant and refugee neighbors.”

“Our values are clear: King County is a welcoming community that respects all people,” said Executive Constantine. “The funding dedicated to the Expanded Legal Defense Network underscores our commitment to equity and social justice by improving access to legal services and ensuring the rights of immigrants and refugees are upheld.”

These community-based organizations will be providing legal aid to vulnerable immigrants and refugees. ELDN funding is divided into two categories:

Legal Services to Immigrants and Refugees – Total Awarded: $5,446,333

The majority of these funds are reserved for legal representation for low-income Seattle workers and King County residents who are in detention, facing deportation, or in danger of losing their status, with a smaller portion available for organizations to build their capacity to be able to offer legal services to this population.

  • Kids in Need of Defense: $860,000
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and Colectiva Legal del Pueblo joint application: $2,665,000
  • West African Community Council (WACC): $748,000
  • Asian Counseling and Referral Services – Legal Defense Team: $493,333
  • Entre Hermanos: $680,000

Mental Health Assessments – Total Awarded: $200,000

These funds will be used to provide mental health assessments that support legal services for immigrants and refugees who are facing or are at risk of facing deportation (or “removal proceedings”).

“As the Trump Administration escalates their attacks on immigrants and refugees through zero-tolerance policies that tear families apart, our City and County is investing in keeping families together through the Seattle-King County Legal Defense Network,” said City of Seattle Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide). “Immediately after Trump’s election, we joined our County partners to meet the urgent need for free legal assistance for people at risk of deportation. Since then the State Legislature has also invested in these legal aid programs. Thank you to our legal services providers working on the front lines in this battle for immigrant justice and fairness.”

“Access to a knowledgeable and trained legal advocate is invaluable during trying times, and can mean the difference between families being torn apart or staying together, or determining whether residents are able to continue the livelihoods that they’ve build over decades,” said King County Councilmember Larry Gossett. “Through legal representation, which even children are not automatically afforded in immigration procedures, we can pursue justice and a pathway to permanent residency and citizenship for individuals in need.”

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) statistics, Washington State experienced a 25 percent increase in arrests and an 88 percent increase in deportations the year after Trump’s election. This includes a 210 percent increase in arrests and a 29 percent increase in deportations of people without criminal convictions.

The City of Seattle continued its support of $1 million annually for this program in 2019 and then in 2020. Through its Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy, King County is able to provide five years of funding beginning at $790,000 in 2019 and rising to $840,000 in 2023, as well as supportive resources for evaluation, capacity-building, and technical assistance for awardees.

King County is contributing $4.09 million from the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy over a five-year period, and the City of Seattle is contributing $1.57 million in General Fund dollars through 2020 to fund the awards announced today. City of Seattle funding beyond 2020 will be determined in upcoming annual budget cycles. Grantee organizations are expected to start offering services in June 2019. For more information about the Seattle-King County Expanded Legal Defense Network, visit this web page.