The Sacramento City Council voted last week to use taxpayer money to create a legal network to help shield illegal immigrants from immigration authorities under President Donald Trump.
The council voted unanimously last Thursday to allot $300,000 in taxpayer money to establish the network, which will be comprised of legal, educational and faith-based nonprofit groups. The idea behind the network is to not only help immigrants fight deportation with legal assistance, but to help "protect children and assets if parents are deported," according to the Sacramento Bee.
"The reality is there is a lot of fear,” said councilman Eric Guerra. “We can alleviate that fear."
Guerra explained that "much" of the legal assistance would go toward helping families establish legal guardianships for their children and powers of attorney to help protect their homes, bank accounts and other assets.
The funds for the network will likely be available as soon as next month.
According to Guerra, who headed the committee to create the network, illegal immigrants are entitled to assistance from the city via taxpayer funds because they also contribute to the local economy and often pay local taxes, such as sales tax and property tax.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg acknowledged at the meeting that many people will be upset over the decision, but said, "we are not a city that will exchange people’s civil rights for money."
Steinberg also justified the move by citing a study that said illegal immigrants contribute nearly $60 million to Sacramento County governments each year.
More from the Bee:
About 49,000 Sacramento residents are not U.S. citizens, including about 4,100 children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s about 10 percent of city’s residents. How many are here illegally is unknown. The census bureau does not ask about legal status.
Steinberg said immigrants with violent criminal records would not be eligible for aid, but those with minor offenses such as DUIs or possession of marijuana would.
“The line, to me, is people who are a threat,” Steinberg said.
Still, local residents were vocal in their opposition to the move.
"I think it’s disgusting," Jennifer Garets, a board member of Sacramento Republican Women Federated, said. "I don’t think that taxpayer money should be used to support this. I’d rather it be given to the homeless."
In addition to establishing the network for illegal immigrants, the Sacramento city council also voted to strengthen their existing "sanctuary city policies" by making it illegal for any city employee — including police officers — to inquire about a resident's legal status.
The idea of using taxpayer funds to help illegal immigrants isn't a new idea in California. In fact, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and other major California municipalities have passed similar measures.