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New Jersey sets aside $2 million to pay legal costs for immigrants facing deportation

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced the allocation of more than $2 million to pay the legal costs for immigrants facing deportation. (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for William Hill Race & Sports Bar)

The state of New Jersey will allocate more than $2 million to pay the legal costs for low-income immigrants who are facing deportation, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.

According to Fox News, the Democratic governor's announcement was met with condemnation from some Republicans, such as Assemblyman John DiMaio.

"The spending choices of this administration are indefensible and irresponsible," DiMaio told Fox News in an email.

How will the money be distributed?

According to the budget, two legal organizations will each get $925,000, and two universities will each get $125,000.

The larger payments will go to Legal Services of New Jersey, a nonprofit that aids low-income residents, and the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker, immigrant-rights organization. The smaller payments will go to the law schools of Rutgers University and Seton Hall University.

Why is New Jersey doing this?

While U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn't detail how many illegal immigrants are detained in the state of New Jersey, the American Friends Service Committee said it costs about $15 million per year to pay for legal representation for immigrants in New Jersey detention facilities.

The organization estimates that about 1,200 immigrants are currently being held in New Jersey, while the Pew Research Center puts the number of illegal immigrants in the state at about 500,000.

More opposition to the move

State Sen. Kristen Corrado objected not only to the amount spent, but the idea that money given to organizations would be earmarked specifically for immigrants, therefore making it unavailable to others who may need it such as senior citizens and veterans.

"When Legal Services already turns away many people who are desperate for help due to resource limitations, we shouldn't limit how new funding can be use," Corrado said.

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