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Dayton grants $25K for legal immigration services

The following article, written by By Beairshelle Edme, appeared January 21, 2015 on WTDN/2 News in Dayton. Read below, or view the contents on WDTN's website.

Wednesday, Dayton City Commissioners approved a grant that may have a major impact on immigrants.

The grant for $25,000 is all part of an initiative to make Dayton a friendlier, more welcoming community.

It was awarded to Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), a non-profit firm that provides legal services for immigrants.

The non-profit estimates that through this grant, and more in the future, it will have the funds to aid nearly 5,000 people who are eligible for temporary stays through President Obama's executive action in November.

President Obama's act's are why ABLE is stepping up its efforts and pairing with the city.

"The most impacted will be deferred action for parents of US citizens," explained Jessica A. Ramos, a staff attorney with the firm.Children who immigrated to the U.S. before they were 16, and have lives in the country since at least January 1, 2010, are also eligible for deferred action.

Deferred action will mean that these immigrants could receive a temporary stay and a work permit for up to 3 years.

Ramos says that her clients have embraced this new policy, but some are, "...apprehensive of it because there is still some controversy surrounding it. Many of them fear that this won't pan out."

She explains that the fear often translates to seeking aid from others claiming to be legal experts, often referred to at "notarios."

That's why ABLE and the City of Dayton have teamed up in an effort to help provide legal services to Dayton area immigrants.

For city leaders, they say this is one more piece to the "Welcome Dayton" initiative.

"With 'Welcome Dayton', you know, any community that is diverse is a community that is more economically viable," said Catherine Crosby, with the City of Day. "It brings a lot of opportunities in terms of amenities for people to learn about one another."

The grant will jump-start ABLE's education and outreach to the immigrant population.

Officials say this will also decrease fraud cases spurred by "notarios."

But despite these circumstances, not everyone thinks these immigrants need or deserve help from the city.

And officials recognizes this.

"Our country is built on diversity and so, I think that while we know there are going to be some naysayers the majority of the community is supportive of it and I think I that those who are naysayers will come along because they'll see the change," Crosby affirmed.

The legal firm is ultimately seeking $200,000 in funding to increase the city's legal services to this community.

ABLE lawyers and staff will provide screenings for eligibility.