Legal funding for immigrants in detention: A debate that divided this wealthy Md. suburb returns

Local governments across the Washington area are expanding legal defense funds for immigrants facing deportation, reviving a debate that has divided advocates, officials and residents in Maryland’s largest jurisdiction.

News Story (District of Columbia)

Rebecca Tan
Washington Post
August 29, 2019

Tags: Immigration

Organizations mentioned/involved: Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition


In the District, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) increased funding for a legal aid program from $900,000 to $2.5 million. More importantly, advocates say, Bowser removed a clause that had prevented organizations from seeking the grant money to represent detained adults.

Advocates were told at a July 22 meeting that the clause would be removed, said Kelly White, the Detained Adult Program director at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition, which leads the legal defense efforts of low-income, detained immigrants across Washington.

This marks a significant policy shift in the District, where the mayor has previously rerouted funding meant for the representation of detained adults to other immigrant service programs, prompting criticism from advocates as well as legislators. In the wake of this change, the CAIR coalition is applying to the D.C. grant program for the first time, White said.