President Barack Obama’s administration will spend $2 million dollars of taxpayer funds to provide illegal immigrant children with legal representation.
On Friday, the Justice Department announced a “justice AmeriCorps” program that will fund nearly 100 lawyers across 29 cities with one-year grants and stipends so they can represent illegal immigrants who have been flooding into the country and being warehoused, most notably in Texas.
“With the launch of justice AmeriCorps, we’re taking a historic step to strengthen our justice system and protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “How we treat those in need, particularly young people who must appear in immigration proceedings – many of whom are fleeing violence, persecution, abuse or trafficking – goes to the core of who we are as a nation.”
According to The New York Times, the $2 million grant will be “distributed to nonprofit organizations in 29 cities,” and federal officials expect nearly 10,000 illegal immigrant children to appear in courts in those cities.
Holder also said the program will “reaffirm our allegiance to the values that have always shaped our pursuit of justice” and “empower new generations of aspiring attorneys and paralegals to serve their country and stand on the front lines of this fight.”
Immigration officials have said that the Obama administration is partly responsible for attracting many of these illegal immigrant children by pushing for amnesty. They assert that “changes in U.S. policy to expand legal residence opportunities in the U.S. for undocumented youth” have accounted, in part, for the surge of illegal immigrant children pouring into the country.
The Obama administration enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, and some illegal immigrant children have reportedly been told that they will be given amnesty if they successfully cross America’s southern border. Obama has also been pushing for amnesty for all the country’s illegal immigrants and has suggested that he would unilaterally act to ease deportations if Congress does not pass amnesty. This may give illegal immigrants more incentive to attempt to enter the country illegally.