AP: NYC Creates First ‘Public Defender For The Poor’

New York City has created what’s being called “the nation’s first system of public defenders for poor immigrants facing deportation,” according to the Associated Press and other news organizations.

Called “The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project,” the office will cover “… all [mostly financially] eligible immigrant city residents detained in the system and appearing in immigration courts in New York City or the New Jersey cities of Elizabeth and Newark,” the AP reported, adding that state lawmakers approved $4.9 million for the initiative as part of the $75 billion budget passed early Thursday for the fiscal year which starts July 1.

Quoting Oren Root, who works for the Vera Institute of Justice that is managing the project, the AP notes that “… immigration law is incredibly complex, and it is exceedingly difficult for immigrants to succeed in making a case for themselves—even if they have legal grounds for one—if they don’t have an attorney. Root added that data shows immigrants without attorneys won their cases about 3% of the time, while those with attorneys were much more likely to be successful.
“The thought that they can go up against trained government lawyers and have any chance to win their cases is just a pipe dream,” said Mr. Root, director of the institute’s Center on Immigration and Justice.