CITY HALL — Mayor Rahm Emanuel Friday pledged $1 million to defend immigrants threatened with deportation.
The fund, in partnership with the National Immigrant Protection Center, will provide immediate legal information, screening and consultations for undocumented immigrants, according to a statement from the mayor.
The additional funds will allow the center to serve 3,000 additional residents, an increase of 50 percent, according to the mayor's office.
"Chicago has a proud history of diversity and inclusion, and my administration will do everything in our power to ensure that immigrants remain safe, secure and supported," Emanuel said. "Because the election has created anxiety and uncertainty, we've created a legal fund to help ensure immigrants and refugees have access to legal guidance."
About 150,000 Chicago area residents do not have status as legal permanent residents, and tens of thousands more are worried about their immigration status, according to the center.
"This fund speaks to the ongoing commitment to defend our immigrant families and uphold the values that make Chicago a sanctuary city," said 25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis. "It lets our communities know that they do not need to be afraid. We are united in support, and will work to keep all families together."
Emanuel said he would ask "other private and philanthropic partners to join the effort to support these families in need to gain access to legal services," according to a statement from his office.
The money to start the legal defense fund will come from the $20 million set aside by the City Council to give Chicagoans earning less than $75,000 a rebate on their property taxes after the largest hike in the city's history.
Because only 7 percent of eligible Chicago homeowners have applied for the rebate — totaling about $1 million — the city was able to dip into that pot of money, said mayoral spokeswoman Jennifer Martinez.
The deadline to apply for the rebate is Dec. 30.
Emanuel has said Chicago will remain a sanctuary city despite President-elect Donald Trump's promise to withhold federal funds from municipalities that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Trump made immigration a central issue of the presidential campaign. He has vowed to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and to ban Muslims from entering the United States.
In addition, Trump vowed to impose financial penalties on sanctuary cities that shelter undocumented immigrants. There are 37 sanctuary cities in the United States.
City officials are expected to establish a municipal identification card for undocumented immigrants next year.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here.