DC to Use Taxpayer Money to Pay for Illegal Alien Legal Defense Fees

washington-dc-flag-rotator720x480Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced this week that the District of Columbia will begin awarding taxpayer-funded grants to defense lawyers and nonprofit organizations to represent illegal alien residents facing immigration or other law enforcement proceedings. The $500,000 fund was created in a response to the election of Donald Trump, whose platform promised increasing border security and enforcing federal immigration law, despite a federal law prohibiting the expenditure of government money on legal representation for aliens in immigration matters. Trump’s platform energized American voters largely because of his pledges to enforce  immigration laws  and  combat sanctuary cities.

The city will contribute part of the fund to help illegal alien residents obtain representation to apply for asylum or other forms of relief currently available under the Obama Administration’s policies. Removal proceedings, as well as asylum and other adjustment of status proceedings, are civil proceedings. Publicly funded legal representation for civil proceedings is generally something that is not provided to U.S. citizens who face civil legal issues, such as foreclosures, evictions proceedings, child custody cases, or divorce proceedings. Aliens that wish to be represented by legal counsel are free to do so, but federal law stipulates that it must be at no cost to the government.

The $500,000 fund is another piece to the city’s efforts to obstruct the enforcement of federal law. Despite being home to the federal government, the DC City Council passed legislation in 2012 to prohibit law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials and force officers to release criminal aliens back onto the streets instead of transferring them to federal custody. The City Council also passed legislation in 2013 to allow illegal aliens to receive driver’s licenses without meeting minimal documentary standards set under the federal REAL ID Act.

Mayor Bowser’s announcement marks a trend amongst sanctuary cities to increase aid to illegal aliens following the victory of President-elect Donald Trump. Last month, the Chicago City Council approved a $1.3 million fund to help illegal aliens pay for legal services. California Senator Ben Hueso (D-40) also introduced a measure to the California State Legislature last month to provide taxpayer-funded legal representation to illegal aliens. Additionally, a plan by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is already in the works to provide at least $10 million for legal representation of illegal aliens.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar
    starryeyedprize on

    American tax payers monies should not go toward paying for illegal aliens. We want our tax monies helping our veterans who have served our country, fought for our freedom and our rights, for our legal American citizens who are homeless, hungry and toward housing and help to get our mentally off the streets. They must all be deported so tax payers monies can go to american citizens where it is needed the most.

  2. avatar
    starryeyedprize on

    Can someone point me in the right direction to set up a “Build The Wall Fund”. I am quite sure there will be many donations and all monies will go towards helping build the wall.
    The legal American citizen should not have to pay tax, if our monies are being used to issue grants for illegal alien legal defense. Why aren’t the American Citizen’s voice being heard? Why is it only the illegal aliens are being heard? E- verify should be mandatory and enforced to the fullest. Illegal aliens should not be allowed to jump ahead of immigrants who have already applied and waiting for legal status. All illegal aliens should be deported, put on a lottery list to become legal and can return legally as everyone else did. It’s not denying them citizenship, it is assuring them they can come back legally when their name is pulled and they have been vetted to re-enter.

  3. avatar
    Claudia Fortune on

    This should NOT be allowed. They are illegal and the taxpayers should not be strapped with paying for this. They are not all poor. They get paid under the table and then send most of their monies home (out of country). Put a hold on sending any monies out of country (unless US Military). Make them pay for their own defense/legal fees. Being here illegal is a crime and they don’t belong here, so why should the taxpayer have to pay for them. Just ship them back to where they came from.

  4. avatar

    This is against federal statute. No government money, no taxpayer money, none of the People’s money can be used for the defense of any alien in immigration court.

    http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=(title:8 section:1229a edition:prelim)
    8 USC 1229a: Removal proceedings
    (4) Alien’s rights in proceeding
    In proceedings under this section, under regulations of the Attorney General
    (A) the alien shall have the privilege of being represented, at no expense to the Government, by counsel of the alien’s
    choosing who is authorized to practice in such proceedings,

    The key phrase here is “at no expense to the Government”.