Fresno says 'no' to free legal counsel to undocumented immigrants facing deportation

FRESNO, Calif - The City of Fresno said no to providing free legal counsel to undocumented immigrants facing deportation.

The legal defense fund was denied on a 4-2 vote Tuesday afternoon. The fund would have allocated $200,000 thousand dollars from the city budget to pay attorney fees for undocumented immigrants.

Supporters said the money would have gone to help those most in need in a time of tightening immigration laws and restrictions.

"They're a part of our community. They have children in our schools. We wanted them to be seen and recognized and invested into as much," said Faith in Fresno Member Sukaina Hussain.

Councilmember Esmeralda Soria offered the motion that was ultimately defeated by the council.

"This is a modest investment attempting to help provide some seed funding to provide very critical legal services for folks who are here," she said.

City Council president Clint Olivier who voted against the legal fund said the city simply doesn't have money.

"I couldn't justify taking money away from neighborhoods and families to put into this legal defense fund that only helps a few. The money is better spent on a program that effects everyone and that lifts everyone in the neighborhood up," he said.

Councilmember Luis Chavez abstained from voting. The only other council member that sided with Soria in favor of the legal fund was Oliver Baines.

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