Defense funds for illegal aliens are being paid by U.S. taxpayers


January 18, 2022

By Dale Wilcox

We have seen the widening gulf between the American people and our ruling class for several years now. Nowhere is this more evident than on the immigration issue. People of varied backgrounds have been quite clear that they want a secure border, less foreign competition for jobs, and an orderly immigration system. The ruling class keeps giving us chaos instead.

Now along with the insult comes further injury. Not only do our leaders keep giving us policies that unquestionably lead to the country’s gradual decline, they want you, the American taxpayer, to fork over the money to make it happen.

My organization, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, recently investigated a glaring example of this. We discovered a nationwide alliance between radical anti-borders activists and city and county governments to create taxpayer-funded “deportation defense programs,” which provide representation and/or other legal services to non-citizen facing deportation proceedings, typically at reduced or no cost to the alien.

Under U.S. law, illegal aliens and other non-citizens facing deportation orders do not have a right to legal representation at federal government expense because immigration law is a civil matter, not a criminal one. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that deportation is simply restitution, not punishment, i.e., returning the alien to the status quo before they unlawfully entered the country. Why then should state and local taxpayers be forced to pay for civil lawyers for illegal aliens?! Think about this the next time that you have to hire a civil lawyer to draft a will, defend or bring a lawsuit, or handle a divorce or any other civil matter.

We have elected leaders working with radical anti-borders groups to spend hard-earned taxpayer money on programs that not only don’t serve the interests of the people, but actively work against them.

Not to be outdone, this alliance has simply redirected the bill for this program to those paying city and county taxes. We estimate that at least $5.6 million dollars will be spent by taxpayers living in these communities for the 2022 fiscal year.

A progressive nonprofit organization based in New York City, the Vera Institute of Justice, has served as the main catalyst for the proliferation of these deportation defense programs. The group claims that, out of the more than 50 publicly funded local and state deportation defense programs across the U.S., its Safety & Fairness for Everyone Initiative (SAFE) is formal partners with 22 of these communities.

Vera typically provides one-time grants to localities initiating these programs, which fund legal services, with the aim of making these programs permanent. The first such program began in New York City in 2013, dubbed the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, with similar programs spreading since then.

The growth of these deportation defense funds has not slowed down but proliferated. In the past year alone, new programs have been created while others have seen their temporary status made permanent and enjoyed increased funding. Vera says its goal is universal representation for individuals in immigration court – meaning any illegal alien in the country contesting a deportation order would be provided an attorney at no cost to them.

Not surprisingly, the management of these programs has been suspect. In one glaring example we discovered, city officials in Philadelphia admitted that they administered no oversight over its deportation defense program, despite funding it with hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

When the Philadelphia government faced steep budget cuts in 2020, it was poised to cancel its deportation defense program. However, the city’s leaders somehow not only found a way to maintain the program amid a financial crisis, but doubled taxpayer commitment to $200,000 for next fiscal year.

It is a similar story in other communities that adopted these programs. When Fort Collins, Colorado, struggled with the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus lockdown, city leaders anticipated a 2021 budget cut of around $13 million – no small sum for a town of roughly 170,000. Despite the steep financial sacrifices citizens and city leaders were making, anti-borders advocates continued to push for a taxpayer-funded deportation defense fund.

Illegal alien advocates got their wish when, during a July 6, 2021 meeting, the Fort Collins City Council passed Ordinance No. 64, which established the creation of an immigration defense pilot program. The program came with a $150,000 budget, entirely funded with taxpayer money.

Today we are a far cry from the economic prosperity that existed during the Trump administration. Our country is struggling with myriad problems including coronavirus, runaway inflation, a porous southern border and supply chain shortages, to name a few. Extricating ourselves from this quagmire will require shrewd leadership and wise allocation of our limited resources.

Instead, we have elected leaders working with radical anti-borders groups to spend hard-earned taxpayer money on programs that not only don’t serve the interests of the people, but actively work against them. Is this the leadership the American people want or deserve? It is past time for the citizens of this country to demand leaders that will represent the interests of the people, not activist groups with shadowy agendas.    

Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.

Also published at: Dale L. Wilcox, Defense funds for illegal aliens are being paid by U.S. taxpayersThe Washington Times, January 13, 2022.

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