New York has made history by becoming the first U.S. state to offer free legal counsel to all detained immigrants facing deportation.
By securing $10 million for services in the 2017-2018 budget, this is the largest commitment that the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) has made to immigrant legal aid in the state's history.
With this initiative, the IDC, which worked with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to secure the funds, will make sure that no immigrant is detained and separated from his or her family only because he or she can't afford a lawyer.
According to partnering organization, Vera Institute of Justice, having a public defender can improve an immigrant's chance of remaining in the U.S. by as much as 1,000 percent.
“This is a country built by immigrants and we must do everything we can to protect our immigrant communities," said IDC Leader and NY State Senator Jeffrey Klein disclosed in a statement. "These vital funds knock down the financial wall immigrants face during deportation hearings by providing free legal assistance."
The $10 million grant will be distributed as followed:
- $4 million to the Vera Institute of Justice
- $2 million to the Hispanic Federation
- $1 million to the New York Immigration Coalition
- $1 million to the Empire Justice Center
- $1 million to the Northern Manhattan Immigration Coalition for Immigrant Rights
- $1 million to Catholic Charities Community Services
The IDC reports that the funds "will be used for immigrant defense services to prevent deportation, green card application processing, job assistance and other endeavors to advance immigrant rights."
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