The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) is the first universal provided public defender program in the country for immigrants facing deportation.
NYIFUP provides free, high-quality legal representation to every indigent immigrants facing deportation in the City of New York, as well as to detained New Yorkers facing deportation in the nearby immigration courts in New Jersey. NYIFUP aims to support New York’s vibrant immigrant community by reducing the unnecessary detainment and unjust deportation of individuals who have strong ties to their communities.
NYIFUP responds to a pressing need for improved access to legal services for noncitizens facing deportation in New York. Approximately 1,650 immigrant New Yorkers each year are unable to afford counsel in removal cases. They include long-time permanent residents and victims of abuse, persecution, violence, and torture. Before NYIFUP, many New Yorkers were deported despite legal claims to remain in the U.S., simply because they could not afford an attorney. Studies have found that 97% of detained immigrants without counsel are unsuccessful in challenging their deportation, and also revealed that access to counsel can improve the chance of winning a deportation case by as much as 1000%.
With funding from the New York City Council, NYIFUP was created as a collaborative of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, The Center for Popular Democracy, Make the Road New York, and the Immigration Justice Clinic of Cardozo Law School. Following a successful pilot year of NYIFUP, New York City Council granted full funding the program in 2014 in an historic and precedent-setting move. NYIFUP, now implemented jointly by The Bronx Defenders, Legal Aid Society, and Brooklyn Defender Services, seeks to increase court effectiveness and decrease detention times for those it represents, thereby saving taxpayer dollars, while providing due process. By keeping families together, the project seeks to lower the social and economic costs that would otherwise be incurred by New York City and State and New York employers. NYIFUP aims to develop a replicable model for other jurisdictions around the country.
Since The Bronx Defenders started working under the NYIFUP project, we have prevented the deportation of 26 New Yorkers who are now no longer facing deportation and are back home with their families. In addition, we have secured the release of 36 clients during the pendency of their case.