The city of Fresno would chip in $200,000 for a legal defense fund for illegal immigrants, under an amendment proposed in the city budget.

Championed by councilwoman Esmeralda Soria and social justice group Faith in the Valley, the city would contribute funds and encourage private donors to help as well.

“I know it’s the right thing to do,” Soria said from the dais. “The $200,000 is a modest investment, but a very important investment. It does send a message to our immigrant community which we all know is the backbone of our local economy.”

Questions still remain of how the city will pay for such a fund. There are also no concrete details of how the fund would work.

City governments like Fresno do not create nor enforce immigration laws. That is a role of the federal government.

During budget hearings, the city listened to more than two hours of testimony, mostly from supporters of the idea.

“This is not about criminals. This is not about terrorist. This is not about rapist, as some of our politicians use in their rhetoric. This is about families. This is about people. This is about saving lives. This is about offering opportunities, protections, solace, peace and love to those people who need it the most,” Reza Nekumanesh of Faith in the Valley told council last Wednesday (June 14).

One speaker, Ben Bergquam, opposed the legal defense fund. “We have a right as a society to determine our laws and you (council) don’t have a right to go against federal law,” he said.

Councilman Dr. Garry Bredefeld says it is unlikely this motion would pass. “I suspect that you would be disappointed,” Bredefeld told the audience. “It is not something I will support.

Other cities like Sacramento and San Francisco have similar funds like the one proposed in Fresno.

The council will vote on this amendment as well as the entire budget tomorrow (June 20).


What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below.

Contact David Taub

Phone: 559-492-4037 / e-mail

This story was not subject to the approval of Granville Homes.

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