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Latino Daily News

Friday November 8, 2013

NYC Launches Nation’s First Legal Services Program for Detained Immigrants

New York City through the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) is launching the nation’s first program that provides legal services for detained immigrants facing deportation.

The pioneering program is funded through the NYC council and is available for NYC immigrants who cannot afford legal counsel and are facing deportation.  NYC is committing an initial investment of $500,000 for the program which is expected to help nearly 200 immigrants out of 900 detained indigent immigrants in NYC annually.

Approximately 60 percent of New York residents facing deportation for being in the country illegally do not have attorneys to represent their interests.  These detained immigrants tend to relay on overtaxed immigrant advocacy organizations such as the Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.  In some cases the indigent immigrants needing legal representation are citizens and should never of been detained.

The program will provide court appointed counsel for detained immigrants at the Varick Street Immigration Court, with the goal of providing quality legal counsel on issues of immigration and due process.  Detained immigrants who are making under 200 percent of the poverty limit are eligible to receive a court-appointed lawyer. The poverty limit in NYC currently is $11,400 for a single person and $23,550 for a family of four.

The one-year pilot program will be administered by the Vera Institute of Justice; they will oversee the program, coordinate legal services and analyze data emerging from the pilot. The program commenced on November 6, 2013. 

NYC is hoping the success of this pilot program will encourage other cities with large indigent immigrant populations to fund lawyers to represent the underserved community of non-citizen residents facing detention and deportation.

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