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New York Giving Legal Help to Poor Detainees

November 18, 2013
Plain English Version

Immigrants facing deportation do not have a legal right to a lawyer. New York is starting a program that gives them lawyers. It is the first program of its kind in the nation.

It is called the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NY IFUP). After years of looking at the problem, legal and immigrant groups came together. They said having no legal representation led to more deportations and broken families. This in turn leads to more government money spent on the provision of supportive services.

Experts say fear and ignorance; language problems and lack of money keep detainees from getting counsel.

The NY IFUP pilot program will serve 190 immigrants. Full funding for the program would cost about $7.4 million a year. It would serve about 2,450 immigrants.

At the first hearing, the first detainee agreed to be deported. A lawyer said without a lawyer, the detainee’s case would have been held over. Needless and expensive time would have been spent in his detention.

At the end of the first day, ten detainee cases with an assigned NY IFUP lawyer had been heard. The cases then were compared to a case where the detainee hired his own lawyer. His lawyer did not show up. The case then was put on the calendar for November 16. This delay consists of 13 days of detention to be paid for by taxpayers at a cost of $2,067.

Source: The New York Times                                                                                           November 6, 2013

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