As reported by ABC News, “New York City has created what advocates say is the nation’s first system of public defenders for poor immigrants facing deportation.” New York City lawmakers have approved $4.9 million dollars to help cover legal fees for The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project. This project will “cover all 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 $4.9 million dollars will be spent covering the legal fees of the public defenders representing those facing deportation and also the costs that go along with litigation. The new funds are expected to cover at least 1,300 new clients and the goal is to help immigrants navigate through the complexities of immigration law.
With New York being, what is believed to be, the first municipality to cover the costs of litigation for those facing deportation, the hope is that the program will spread to more municipalities and possibly to the federal government. Oren Root, the director of the Vera Institute of Justice stated, “Ultimately this cannot be solved nationwide jurisdiction by jurisdiction,” and hopes that the federal government will start paying for such counsel.
The $4.9 million dollars reserved for the cost of legal fees to represent those facing deportation has the goal of helping immigrants face litigation with “dignity” and for the purposes of justice and a fair civil trial.