NYC first jurisdiction with right to counsel for immigrants

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08/16/2019, Miscellaneous, Immigration

UPDATE: Trump Administration policy changes re: attorney access hinder NYIFUP


The New York Times has coverage on how the Trump Administration, via ICE and EOIR, has made it significantly more difficult for NYIFUP attorneys to have access to their clients in order to provide effective representation.


UPDATE: NYIFUP expanded to be universal for all of New York State


In a groundbreaking step, New York will be funding counsel for all detained immigrants facing removal.  From the press release:


The Vera Institute of Justice and partner organizations today announced that detained New Yorkers in all upstate immigration courts will now be eligible to receive legal counsel during deportation proceedings. The 2018 New York State budget included a grant of $4 million to significantly expand the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), a groundbreaking public defense program for immigrants facing deportation that was launched in New York City in 2013.


On August 1, the City Council and Mayor came to an agreement as to funding for the project at the City level.


You can read more about this new expansion at Vera’s website and the Human Rights at Home Blog




In New York, federal Second Circuit Judge Robert Katzmann convened a Study Group on Immigration Representation to explore ways to provide counsel in immigration removal proceedings. The Study Group's 2012 report recommended the creation of an assigned counsel pilot program for detained immigrants facing removal in New York. The report became the blueprint for creating the nation's first institutionally provided, universal representation system of counsel for immigrants in deportation proceedings. Note that an earlier study by the City Bar Justice Project concluded that almost 40% of those in removal proceedings might have a viable defense


In 2013, New York City gave $500,000 towards the establishment of the pilot project, which is administered by the Vera Institute of Justice, and in June 2014 the City announced it would infuse another $4.9 million into the program. At this stage, all New Yorkers who are income eligible receive counsel through the project.


Prior to the project, 60 percent of detained New Yorkers went without representation.  As the result of the project, all detained immigrants in New York City are now represented.  The success rate for unrepresented detainees in immigration court has been around 3 percent, but with project attorneys, that number has increased tenfold.


For media coverage of the report, check out the Coalition's comprehensive bibliography section on the project.  And for more information about the Project, check out the pages by the Vera Institute for Justice and the Bronx Defenders, as well as the Vera's SAFE Initiative, which looks to replicate NYIFUP around the country.  

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes