SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – There’s growing backlash over a controversial immigration plan in Sacramento that proposes investing city money into legal services for illegal immigrants.
The amount: $300,000.
The money would come from the city’s general fund and attorneys from the city’s Safe Haven Task Force call it a human rights matter.
But some are questioning the legality of the proposal.
State Senator Joel Anderson says the city of Sacramento’s proposed plan to invest $300,000 into education for undocumented immigrants is a drop in the bucket. But creating a path for illegal immigrants would cost taxpayers much-needed federal dollars, he says. That’s why he voted against two proposed state laws that would help protect illegal immigrants from deportations. And it’s why the Senator from San Diego is calling on the city of Sacramento to abandon its sanctuary city efforts.
“They’re taking $300,000 that could be used for services in the city for everyday ordinary citizens and they’re saying they want to use this money to shield felons,” he says.
But the city says the plan would create a “legal defense fund” to help hundreds of families per year understand their rights.
“We have budgetary concerns but we also have human values and human rights,” said Attorney Luis Cespedes who’s leading the task force.
City officials say they’ve gone through all the legal channels, but critics say paying legal fees for illegal immigrants is illegal.
The “Immigration Reform Law Institute” tells CBS13 in a statement:
“Under federal law, it is illegal for a state or a city to provide public benefits to illegal aliens, unless the state legislature affirmatively votes to do so. it is not enough for the city council to vote for such benefits. ”
A local attorney calls if a gray area.
“It’s not cut and dry that you cannot provide public services to undocumented immigrants,” said attorney Allen Sawyer.
Los Angeles and San Francisco have successfully enacted ordinances recently to shield undocumented immigrants from immigration authorities.
Anderson is trying to put a stop to the “sanctuary city” trend and is urging Sacramento taxpayers to take a stand.
“Show up at the meeting and he heard,” he said.
The ordinance goes before city council Thursday.
A spokeswoman said Sacramento Mayor Darryl Steinberg was unavailable for comment for this story.