This summary was about how immigrants facing deportation can access an immigration lawyer was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.
The Access to Representation Act, which New York state lawmakers proposed earlier this year, has now been amended and introduced in the state Senate and Assembly following the busing of asylum seekers to New York.
Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Assembly Member Catalina Cruz (D-Queens) announced the legislation on Friday with support from the New York Immigration Coalition, Immigrant ARC, the Vera Institute of Justice, and other advocacy groups.
Currently, many low-income New Yorkers facing deportation must navigate the judicial system alone, while facing government attorneys who are experts in the process.
“For an immigrant facing deportation, having an attorney on their case is not a luxury — it can be a matter of life or death,” Hoylman said. “The amended Access to Representation Act…will provide due process to all New Yorkers and bring some fairness to our broken immigration system.”
Sudies have shown that having access to a lawyer increases an individual’s chance of being granted immigration relief.
Immigrants in detention who had were represented by a lawyer were twice as likely as unrepresented immigrants to obtain immigration relief, according to a 2016 report from the American Immigration Council. Immigrants with legal counsel who were not detained were almost five times more likely to be granted immigration relief.
Assemblymember Catalina Cruz said in a statement that the new bill “seeks to right this wrong by ensuring that the promises made by our Constitution are provided to everyone, not simply those who are able to afford it.”
New York has pioneered among states in providing funding for immigration court proceedings. But that funding is not guaranteed year to year, advocates note, and depends on the state budget.
If approved, the Act would be the first law in the nation to create a state right to a lawyer for people facing deportation who cannot afford representation, advocates say.
The legislation is currently in the Senate Finance Committee. More details about it here.
Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Report for America Corps member covering immigration enforcement for Documented, contributed reporting.
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