SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The City of Sacramento is considering spending $300,000 to support local undocumented immigrants. The money would come from the city’s general fund and help an estimated 750 families per year.
“If they decide to spend that kind of money, they are spending it for a purpose,” said Hakeem Yusuf, who is originally from Nigeria.
Three months ago, Mayor Darrell Steinberg created the Safe Haven Task Force to combat the Trump Administration’s strict immigration laws. Now, the task force wants to spend $300,000 for a legal defense network for undocumented immigrants.
“The city of Sacramento has always stood up for those who are least among us,” said Luis Cespedes, who serves as legal counsel for the Safe Haven Task Force. “We have budgetary concerns but we also have human values and human rights.”
Roughly 49,000 people in Sacramento are undocumented and Cespedes says many of them are invaluable to the local economy.
“What we’re investing in is our neighbors, in our families and our friends in supporting and defending constitutional rights,” he said.
Under the plan, the city would hire two attorneys to give legal advice to about 750 families per year and to conduct know your rights information sessions at local churches and schools.
But the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) believes the money would be better served elsewhere.
“Those funds would be much better spent helping the area’s homeless or providing basic public services and healthcare to local disabled veterans, who have both earned, and are worthy of your sympathy,” said Dave Ray, Director of Communications for FAIR.
But Cespedes cites other cities, including Oakland and Los Angeles, which have made similar investments – and in the long run, he believes it would be a win for the local economy.
“These essential workers would be gone and then who would provide the services for other more skilled workers?” he said.
If approved, police and other city employees would also be breaking the law by looking into a person’s immigration status.
“If they are here and they are helping us you know by giving back by providing jobs, then yes, of course, it can help them,” said Mariah Asavedo, who lives in Sacramento.
The city will vote on this on Thursday. The task force hopes to match the funds from various organizations throughout the state.