Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund

The city of Denver is enriched by the talents, work, and culture of all of its residents. Immigrants, their families, and families of mixed immigration statuses are under increasing threat of potential removal from this country and from our community.

In response to federal executive orders and immigration enforcement, Denver City Council passed the Public Safety Enforcement Priorities act and Mayor Michael B. Hancock signed Executive Order 142 establishing the Denver Immigrant Legal Defense Fund. Committees developed the necessary framework over four months and submitted recommendations to the Mayor and the Executive Committee in December 2017.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Denver's Immigrant Legal Services Fund?

The fund awards grants to nonprofit organizations to provide representation for qualified individuals threatened with or in removal proceedings.


Why do we need a Legal Services Fund?

At its core, providing representation to immigrants in removal proceedings is not about who deserves to stay or be deported, it is about bringing fairness to complex immigration proceedings that pit immigrants against experienced government attorneys, and tear communities and families apart.

  • Legal defense should not be for only those who can afford it
  • Immigrants are over 10 times more likely to be able to stay in the country when they have representation
  • Deportation proceedings are the only legal proceedings in the United States where people are detained without access to legal representation


What's at stake in Denver?

The federal government’s latest immigration orders have created disruption in our community.

Mass deportations cost our community valuable resources – we lose vital tax revenue, local industries are disrupted, schools become crisis centers and children who are separated from their parents end up in foster care.

It is up to us at the local level to minimize that disruption by finding efficient, effective and humane solutions.

Fair representation and due process will help reduce fear and take care of our community. Whether a person should have legal representation is about guarantying fairness and due process. It is a separate issue from whether someone should be deported.

  • The Denver Metro Area is among the 20 U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest populations of undocumented immigrants. (PEW)
  • About 15% of Denver residents are foreign born, that’s over 100,000 residents (New American Economy
  • In 2014, Immigrants paid $652.5 Million in taxes in Denver and possessed 2.1 billion in purchasing power (New American Economy)


Who qualifies to receive legal defense services?

  • Individuals subject to actual or potential immigration removal proceedings and/or who are subject to a final order of removal
  • Denver residents
  • Individuals who have a household income of 200% of the Federal Poverty Level


Who will select the nonprofits that will do this work?

The Denver Foundation, with the recommendation of an advisory committee, will award grants to nonprofit organizations who will provide direct services to individuals.



Who is funding this initiative?

Anyone can donate to the fund, which will consist of both public and private dollars.  The fund has received $385,000 in contributions from the City, the Mayor (in his individual capacity), the Vera Institute of Justice SAFE Cities Network, The Denver Foundation, and the Rose Community Foundation.


What is the timeline for the fund?

The fund has been established, and contributions are being accepted. Nonprofits will be able to apply later this year. Individuals will apply to those organizations.

Why should the city government use taxpayer money for this purpose?

Our community is safest when all our neighbors trust their officials and institutions and know they will be treated justly and with dignity.

Denver’s immigrants contribute greatly to the economic and cultural makeup of Denver’s community.  Providing representation to immigrants in removal proceedings is not about who deserves to stay or be deported.  The fairest and most efficient way to bring order to these complex proceedings is to ensure legal representation for those whose future may well depend on it.


Where can I find more information?

Please visit The Denver Foundation website at http://www.denverfoundation.org/Nonprofits/Grants-What-We-Fund/Other-Grant-Programs/Immigrant-Legal-Services-Fund for additional information. Dace West, Vice President of Community Impact at The Denver Foundation, is also available to answer questions and may be reached at dwest@denverfoundation.org.

Please direct all media inquiries to Laura Bond, Senior Communication Officer at The Denver Foundation, lbond@denverfoundation.org.


How can I contribute?

Donations of any amount are welcome.  Please either visit The Denver Foundation web portal: (http://www.denverfoundation.org/Nonprofits/Grants-What-We-Fund/Other-Grant-Programs/Immigrant-Legal-Services-Fund) or send a check made out to Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund and mail to the following address:

The Denver Foundation
55 Madison St, 8th Floor
Denver, CO 80206