PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A free legal assistance program for immigrants in Portland, Oregon has provided nearly 350 people with lawyers to represent them in deportation hearings in its first year.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Wednesday that the program called Universal Reception also helped at least 105 people apply for refugee status.

Portland’s City Council approved the service last year and put $500,000 toward its budget from property tax collections.

This year, Multnomah County allocated $290,000 to the initiative and the state approved an additional $2 million to expand the service statewide – the first state to do so in the nation.

The people who have received free legal services through the program come from Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Nicaragua, Russia, Ukraine and Venezuela.

Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com

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