New York Times: ‘It’s Like an Automatic Deportation if You Don’t Have a Lawyer’
“Spurred on by these findings, Judge Katzmann’s study group decided to create the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project in 2013, with the goal of creating a pilot program for universal representation that could eventually be expanded to represent every detained immigrant with a hearing at the Varick Street Immigration Court. The City Council funded the pilot program and the Vera Institute of Justice facilitated it.
The pilot grew and became fully funded in 2014 and now funds three organizations to provide lawyers — the Brooklyn Defender Services, the Bronx Defenders and the Legal Aid Society. Attorneys from these organizations meet every immigrant with a hearing at Varick Street, including those detained in New Jersey and upstate New York, and offer their services to anybody whose income is less than 200 percent of the poverty line.
In 2017, Vera issued a report on the first three years of the program and the results were striking. The rate of success — defined as the immigrant’s being allowed to stay in the United States — had risen by 1,100 percent.”
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