All about the NYC Family Unity Immigration Representation Program

09/01/2016, Pilot, Immigration

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 risen to 31 percent, according to those at the Vera Institute running the project.


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.