These Cities Are Providing Free Legal Representation to Residents Facing Deportation
To say that the current administration has been pushing extremely harsh
In conjunction with the announcement of the SAFE Cities Network, the Vera Institute released a
that shows having access to a lawyer makes all the difference when it comes to keeping families together. The study highlights the "common misperception" that only illegal immigrants face deportation proceedings; in reality, many people are vulnerable to being thrust into the deeply complicated world of immigration law:
In fact, any non-citizen-including lawful permanent residents (green card holders), refugees, and people who entered legally on visas can be placed in deportation proceedings.
And to put some numbers to it, the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project reported that only 4% of cases had a "successful outcome" without an attorney. The NYUFUP has worked to get universal access to representation for immigration cases, and since implementing that measure, has seen a 48% successful outcome rate, which is an 1100% increase.
As of now, this is the list of cities in the SAFE network:
Dane County WI
Oakland/Alameda County CA
Prince George's County MD
San Antonio TX
Santa Ana CA
The Baltimore Sun reports that Mayor Catherine Pugh announced Baltimore's participation in SAFE Cities in a statement that emphasizes how providing adequate legal representation makes all members of a community safer:
"Our community is safest when our neighbors trust their officials and institutions and know they will be treated justly and with dignity," Pugh said in a news release. "Providing legal representation to those facing deportation maintains trust in law enforcement and our local institutions and keeps us all safe. If our residents don't feel safe - for example, coming forward to report crimes and cooperating with law enforcement - all of us are at more risk."
SAFE Cities will ensure that anyone who meets their financial eligibility requirement receives a lawyer during deportation hearings, as long as they are within one of those districts associated with the network. It isn't immediately clear how lawyers will be connected with the people who need them, but the Vera Institute writes that they will "provide technical expertise and support, including assistance in identifying and training legal service providers, providing opportunities to share best practices with other jurisdictions, and providing data collection and analyses for the purpose of evaluating the network's impact."
You can also look to see where the jurisdictions supporting the initiative are on a map , and try contacting them here . Due process is a founding ideal of the United States, and these cities are working to make sure it extends to everyone living here.