Colorado lawmakers move to establish immigration legal defense fund

By: - June 8, 2021 5:52 pm

Rep. Kerry Tipper
State Rep. Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood.

Colorado could soon join the small group of states that have created a fund to help low-income people pay for legal representation in immigration cases. Unlike defendants in criminal cases, people who face deportation from the United States don’t have the right to a public defender who will fight for them in immigration court.

House Bill 21-1194 would establish an immigration legal defense fund and seed it with $90,000 in the first year, and $85,000 in the second year. The fund would also be able to accept gifts, grants and donations.

The bill passed in the Senate on Thursday with some changes, and the House on Tuesday moved to approve the amended version.

Sponsors include Reps. Kerry Tipper, a Lakewood Democrat, and Naquetta Ricks, an Aurora Democrat, along with Sen. Dominick Moreno, a Democrat from Commerce City.

The six states that already have immigration legal defense funds include Washington, Oregon, California, Illinois, New York and New Jersey, according to the Vera Institute of Justice.

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Faith Miller
Faith Miller

Faith Miller was a reporter with Colorado Newsline covering the Colorado Legislature, immigration and other stories.