On Wednesday, the city will host a fundraiser for its nearly-$400,000 legal fund to help defend immigrants at risk of deportation.
Mayor Michael Hancock authorized the Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund with an executive order in 2017. Denver is among the top 20 metro areas in the country in its number of undocumented immigrants, and approximately 16% of people are foreign born in the region overall.
The fund has three goals: to defend immigrants in court from deportation, help process those eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and hire pro- or low-bono lawyers.
An advisory board oversees the fund. The Denver Foundation reported that “hundreds” of immigrants and 20 DACA applicants received legal services. The organizations that split the $382,000 fund in 2018 were the Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Clinic, Lutheran Family Services, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN), and University of Denver.
To be eligible for help using DILSF money, an undocumented immigrant must be a Denver resident earning up to 200% of the federal poverty line.
Denverite reported that the city council allocated another $200,000 for the DILSF, in addition to the active solicitation of donations.
A 2016 report from the American Immigration Council, an immigrant-advocacy group, found that immigrants with lawyers were four times as likely to be released from detention and twice as likely to be granted relief from deportation as those without lawyer.
However, only 37% of immigrants had access to a lawyer — and 14% of those in detention.