The United States’ current immigrant system doesn’t readily allow individuals to thrive. For those who come into the country without documentation – because of the extremely limited paths to citizenship – and end up in immigration courts, they’ll often find they have to represent themselves because an attorney isn’t guaranteed. An American Immigration Council report found that from 2007 to 2012, 37 percent of all immigrants received legal representation, but only 14 percent of those detained got help from lawyers. And according to an UCLA study, those who went through the removal proceedings with proper legal representation were five-and-a-half times more likely to have a judge grant them permission to stay in the United States. That’s why New York’s move to become the first state to provide legal representation for all detained undocumented immigrants is so necessary.
According to Vice News, the 2018 New York State budget includes a $10 million grant to further help those facing deportation, with $4 million going to the Vera Institute of Justice’s New York Immigrant Family Unity Project. In 2013, New York City launched the unity project. With only three percent of detained immigrants winning their cases without legal assistance, this money will go a long way toward keeping immigrants from deportation.
“All New Yorkers deserve to have a fair shot in court, and this funding will help thousands of immigrant families receive due process and the chance to remain together,” said Oren Root, director of Vera’s Center on Immigration and Justice. The group reiterates that it doesn’t just benefit undocumented immigrants to stay with their families, it also benefits the state. Theoretically, fewer people will have to turn to social services because they won’t have the added financial strain that comes with losing an extra income. Employers also don’t have the added stress of find new workers to replace those who have been deported.
The rest of the $10 million will go toward the New York Immigration Coalition, the Empire Justice Center, the Northern Manhattan Immigration Coalition for Immigrant Rights, the Hispanic Federation, and the Catholic Charities Community Services.