Supports of legal defense fund for undocumented immigrants rallied at Fresno City Hall

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Supporters of having the City of Fresno contribute to a legal defense fund to help undocumented immigrants, first rallied outside city hall. (KFSN)

Supporters of having the City of Fresno contribute to a legal defense fund to help undocumented immigrants, first rallied outside city hall.

"We're here to urge our elected officials at the City Council to move for and pass a motion to take the lead in our city in setting up a legal defense fund," said Reza Nekaminish, Islamic Cultural Center.

Inside, they addressed the council once cited the lack of defense Japanese Americans had when detained in 1942.

Matthew Jendiann compared the plight of today's immigrants to the ordeals of his Armenian grandparents.

"I see a version of myself and my family in many of my students at Fresno State and their families, many of whom themselves have fled their home countries for the same reasons."

Several used the soon to be unveiled motto of 'In God We Trust' the city council agreed to display on the wall of city hall, as a reason to help immigrants.

"You now have the opportunity to put those beliefs and that faith into action," said Patti Potter, Unitarian Church. "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and the needy."

Only one person, a man in a Make America Great hat, spoke against the idea. And the man responsible for the in 'God We Trust' sign, council Member Garry Bredefeld, made it clear he did not support providing the help.

"I'm not going to support it and I'm going to vehemently oppose it and I think others will not support it as well."

Council Members Oliver Baines and Esmerelda Soria did support it.

"I know it's the right thing to do, I think $200,000 is a modest investment. It does send a message to our immigrant community which we all know is the backbone of our local economy," said Soria.

The other members of the council were silent, but will have to vote next Tuesday on whether to join Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in providing funds to help immigrants facing deportation get lawyers.

Sacramento recently approved $300,000 for such a fund, San Francisco pledged $200,000, and the city of Los Angeles is willing to spend $10-million over two years helping the undocumented fight deportation orders.

Fresno's final decision comes next week.

Related Topics:
politicsimmigrationmoneyfresnoFresno City CouncilFresno - Downtown
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