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Indianapolis will use $150K to help immigrants seeking legal status

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The City of Indianapolis will now spend $150,000 to help immigrants who are seeking legal status. The Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night approved an ordinance that will allocate the money to pilot an immigrant defense fund.

The money will help immigrants in Indianapolis seeking asylum, or those at risk of deportation with legal information and much more.

“I believe that this is a great change for Indiana and I think we should commend all, everyone, that’s working hard for that,” said Hector Morales, grants coordinator at Central Indiana Community Foundation.

The $150,000 will help immigrants pay for attorney fees, citizenship, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications.

“Very much so this work and this proposition specifically has very much so been the work of the community advocating for themselves to make sure that equitable access to legal support is available,” said Jordan Rodriguez, talent acquisition and recruitment manager for the City of Indianapolis.

Morales is protected from deportation by the DACA program. He says the approval of proposal 134 is a step in the right direction.

“To give a perspective as DACA, you have to pay around 1,000 to 1,050 dollars each two years to renew your application so that is extremely cumbersome for some people and I’m blessed enough to have that money,” Morales said.

“Our mission right now is to dismantle racism,” Morales said. “I believe this is a huge win for us at least for the Latinx community just because it is showing a little bit that Indiana is not that racist.”

Rodriguez is the former director of the city’s Office of International and Latino Affairs.

“So my role included an advocacy within the mayor’s office as well as research on this kind of work and what is currently happening in other cities around the country that have similar funds,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez says the city’s Office of Public Health and Safety will now work with different organizations that support immigrants.

“Both on the funder side as well as local organizations that would be able to receive the funds to then take on additional caseloads of residents here in Marion County that would need legal representation,” Rodriguez said.

More information on how people can access these services will be available once the program’s details are finalized. Rodriguez says this type of fund is likely the first of its kind coming from a municipality in Indiana.

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