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FY20 Budget Proposal includes funds dedicated to Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund

April 25, 2019

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Building on his commitment to supporting Boston's immigrant communities, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced his FY20 Budget proposal includes $50,000 in City funds dedicated to the Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund, a public-private partnership that works to increase education and access to legal services to defend its many immigrant communities, refugees, and temporary status holders.

BOSTON - Saturday, April 20, 2019 - Building on his commitment to supporting Boston's immigrant communities, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced his FY20 Budget proposal includes $50,000 in City funds dedicated to the Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund, a public-private partnership that works to increase education and access to legal services to defend its many immigrant communities, refugees, and temporary status holders. 

"The Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund is a statement of our values as a City: that immigrants deserve to have access to information about their rights and to legal services," said Mayor Walsh. "I am proud to include City funds in the FY20 Budget to further the success demonstrated during the early stages of the program, and I thank those who have invested in our City's wellbeing by participating as funders, conveners, advisors, and service providers."

The Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund was launched in 2017 by Mayor Walsh, Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC), and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI), as a pilot program originally expected to conclude in December 2019. The two-year pilot has shown that Boston residents make up the largest percentage of the cases opened among the 27 cities and towns served by the Defense Fund. City funds included in the FY20 Budget will jumpstart the third year of the Fund and are estimated to pay counsel for approximately 30 cases.

"We are grateful for the Mayor's leadership and for being an ardent supporter of immigrant communities in Boston and beyond," said Jocelyn V. Sargent, Executive Director of the Hyams Foundation. "The Walsh Administration's generous contribution to the fund will further support efforts to strengthen and defend immigrants rights especially with increasingly uncertain times ahead. The Hyams Foundation is proud to support the Mayor's efforts in creating an inclusive and welcoming city for all."

Through the Defense Fund, $1 million was awarded in December 2017 to five legal services providers and six non-profit community partners to further build the capacity to support and defend immigrants rights in the Greater Boston area. In many detention proceedings, having an attorney is critical. Detained people who have a lawyer are 10.5 times more likely to be granted some form of relief, according to the National Study of Access to Counsel. Appropriation of funds in the City's Budget is a step towards addressing this need for representation amongst those facing deportation, especially those in detention.

Through their contributions to the cultural, social and economic landscape of the city, immigrants play an essential role in Boston's unique civic life. Foreign-born Bostonians account for 28 percent of City's population. Immigrants generate nearly a quarter of the economic output of Suffolk County. In 2014, immigrants contributed $2.3 billion to the regional economy, generating more than $116.1 million in state and local tax revenues and approximately 15,000 jobs. Additionally, a high proportion of foreign-born Bostonians are self-employed, which has helped revitalize and reinvigorate many of Boston's neighborhoods.

The Defense Fund is made possible by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), a national network of foundations working on issues related to immigrant integration, as well as by contributions from local philanthropic, corporate and legal partners. Local foundations and corporate partners contributing to the fund include The Barr Foundation, The Boston Foundation, The Fish Family Foundation, Foley Hoag LLP, The Herman and Frieda L. Miller Foundation, The Hyams Foundation, and The Klarman Family Foundation.

To learn more about the Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund and participate, please click here.

Immigration Budget