IDLS partners awarded grants to help deport 17 illegal immigrants

DHS awards deportation amnesty for Ethiopians

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is giving a multi-year contract to Houston-based Immigrant Defense Legal Services (IDLS) to develop a comprehensive strategy for deporting undocumented immigrants like the 17 Ethiopians arrested in the Bay Area this week.

The 17 Ethiopians, all of whom are citizens, were arrested after allegedly working without legal permission to enter the country from Mexico, according to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

“This is just another case in which our ICE partners have shown leadership by acting on the very serious threat of immigration fraud,” said Darnell Johnson, a spokesman for the ICE Pacifica Center in San Francisco.

The 17 are among the nearly 50,000 illegals who remain in the U.S. despite not having a green card, according to ICE.

IDLS, which was founded in 2004 by three attorneys from the Bay Area, is among a wave of nonprofit organizations set to receive $4 million in grants from the Homeland Security Department’s Immigrant Defense Program, according to the Bay Guardian.

“Our legal resources are already working to help immigrants get the help they need,” said Laura Piesz, executive director of IDLS.

The IDLS contracts, which were awarded through an inter-agency competition, are expected to last five years and may include an annual audit of their performance.

The grants will also help IDLS expand its existing programs, which include training and outreach for employers and immigration-related legal services, according to the news release.

Some of the grant awards were tied to the three-year contract to evaluate and improve how IDLS programs work with employers and immigration attorneys.

The IDLS contract will enable the organization to hire three additional professionals to help with that work, according to the DHS news release.

As a result, the IDLS contract will enable the organization to hire 30 more attorneys to help with its program.

“To our ICE partners: This is another way in which they’re showing their strength,” said Johnson. “These grants will help build a critical network of immigration lawyers who can use their skills to assist these immigrants who have been left to their own devices.�

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