New York State to offer free legal help to more immigrants facing deportation

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agents detain an immigrant on October 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

John Moore, Getty Images

NEW YORK – State lawmakers approved $4 million in grants aimed at ensuring that every immigrant facing deportation in New York State is represented by an attorney.

According to New York State Senator Jeffrey Klein’s office, the 2017-2018 budget sets aside funds to expand the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP). The Project was launched in 2014 and is a public defense program for those facing deportation. NYIFUP currently provides counsel for immigrants facing deportation in New York City who can’t otherwise afford representation, as well as some immigrants in two upstate counties.

“These vital funds knock down the financial wall immigrants face during deportation hearings by providing free legal assistance,” said Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester).  

According to the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice, which oversees the coalition of groups providing legal counsel, this new infusion will allow the program to expand to cover immigrants throughout the state, making New York the first state in the country to provide attorneys for all financially eligible immigrants facing deportation.

Research by the Vera Institute indicates that detained immigrants have about a three percent chance of avoiding deportation without counsel, but that percentage increases 1000 percent if they have legal representation.