Walsh launches Immigrant Defense Fund at City Hall

Mayor Martin Walsh announced the creation of a new city fund this week that aims to combat the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies and protect the legal status of Boston’s immigrant and refugee citizens.

The fund will put $1.4 million toward providing immigrants, both documented and undocumented, with legal representation and education. Through private contributions from local corporate and legal donors, the fund will provide immigrants with legal assistance via local nonprofit immigrant rights groups.

“This is about keeping families together, this is about protecting children, this is about keeping our workforce strong,” said Walsh during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Studies show that legal representation is critical to success when it comes to immigration law, a particularly complex area of the legal code. Only 37 percent of immigrants are represented legally nationwide and only 14 percent of detained immigrants are represented, according to statistics released by the Walsh administration. Statistically, those who go to court unrepresented have much lower success rates than those with lawyers.

Walsh bashed the “scare tactics” of the current White House and derided the crackdown on immigration, calling it “a witch hunt that wastes billions of dollars.” He also declared his pride in Boston’s status as a sanctuary city, citing the 28 percent of the population that is foreign born, and pointing to his own background for emphasis.

“Immigrants like my parents built this city,” he said. “At least half the children of Boston have a parent who is foreign born. I am one of those kids.”

“Our history of immigration is the reason why Boston is such a vibrant and culturally rich city. This measure will help us make sure that our neighbors don’t have to go through the disruption, the pain, and the trauma of being deported unjustly.”