Tanner Bonovitch Legislative Advisor
FAIR Take | July 2021
Fort Collins, Colorado, recently passed legislation that provides legal funds to illegal aliens to protect them from deportation. On July 6, the Fort Collins City Council passed Ordinance No. 64 by vote of 5-2. This ordinance appropriates $150,000 away from services for the taxpaying citizens of Fort Collins to pay lawyers for illegal aliens facing immigration proceedings. The ordinance was supported by Susan Gutowsky, Julie Pignataro, Tricia Canonico, Emily Gorgol, and Mayor Jeni Arndt. Only Council Members Kelly Ohlson and Shirley Peel opposed the measure.
As expected, numerous open-borders groups testified in support of the ordinance. There was also a strong showing of Fort Collins residents who testified in opposition.
“The appropriate way to work this [legal defense fund] is through voluntary donations to a nonprofit and possibly with pro bono legal services. Our hard-earned tax dollars are not the City Council’s personal slush fund to do with as you please,” stated one Fort Collins resident.
Another resident, Glen Colton, added that more illegal immigration into the city would negatively impact the job market for American citizens and legal immigrants in Fort Collins, as competition for employment will increase in an economy that has not yet fully recovered from the COVID-19 economic crash.
FAIR staff also submitted written testimony opposing the ordinance, noting in addition to these concerns that funds like these amount to unfair privileges for illegal aliens at the expense of American citizens and legal immigrants, who do not have a right to taxpayer-funded legal representation in civil as opposed to criminal legal matters.
While taxpayer-funded deportation defense funds appear to be proliferating across Colorado, Aurora, Colorado’s effort failed in January. However, earlier this year the Colorado state legislature passed House Bill (HB) 1194, which created a statewide immigration legal defense fund within the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The department was tasked with distributing $100,000 to “qualifying nonprofit organizations that provide legal advice, counseling, and representation for, and on behalf of, indigent [illegal aliens] who are subject to an immigration proceeding.” This despite the fact that such funds fly in the face of federal law, which allows illegal aliens to retain counsel but provides that such representation should not be at taxpayer expense.