San Antonio to provide legal representation for undocumented immigrants

SAN ANTONIO - While San Antonio is not a sanctuary city, it is one of 11 SAFE cities nationwide.

It is a "safety and fairness for everyone" city which means San Antonio will be providing some funding for the legal representation of immigrants facing deportation.

Last year San Antonio City Council approved $150,000 for the legal representation and education of low income residents, but the majority of these residents are not U.S. citizens.

"What we need to do is make sure that the emphasis of any service, any taxpayer, any government service is on citizens and on legal lawful residents," said local activist, George Rodriguez.

San Antonio was one of 11 cities given a $100,000 match grant by the national non-profit, VERA Institute of Justice, whose primary purpose is to expand legal services for immigrations facing deportation.

Part of the grant proposal included San Antonio committing money to the legal defense of undocumented immigrants.

"The way that city council approved our participation in that program was to ensure that legal services go to the immigrant population but also a broader array of services for other members of the community," said City of San Antonio Attorney, Andrew Segovia.

"I think it's ridiculous for the City of San Antonio to use taxpayer money to protect and to defend undocumented aliens because of the fact they're here illegally, they're here without permission," Rodriguez said.

1st Assistant City Attorney, Elizabeth Provencio explained some of the money will be used to help low income residents who are citizens with landlord tenant issues, homeless ID recovery and even wills for the elderly.

Among the undocumented immigrants getting help, the city is prioritizing families.

Segovia gave the example of a father who had a wife and 6 children, all of whom were US citizens.

"He had been detained for a year and through our program we were able to get him permanent residency," Segovia said.

"Those problems of families being divided are not the problems of the taxpayer," Rodriguez said. "Those are the problems of the individual who caused those problems."

Non-profits had to submit requests for proposal.

The city chose to split the $150,000 between Catholic Charities ($75,000), RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services ($25,000), Texas Rio Grande Legal Aide ($25,000), and American Gateways ($25,000).

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VERA Institute of Justice

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