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State Expands Legal Aid for Detained Immigrants Facing Deportation (NY)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

State Expands Legal Aid for Detained Immigrants Facing Deportation

"Emile was a U.S. permanent resident, a student at Buffalo State College and a restaurant manager supporting his pregnant wife when he was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In his last semester of college, he was offered a job as a financial advisor. When his employer ran a background check, ICE discovered he had a misdemeanor conviction. The agency arrested, detained and placed him in deportation proceedings.

A lawyer contracted by the state's Immigrant Family Unity Project, under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Liberty Defense Project, took up Emile's case. An immigration judge granted Emile bond, releasing him from detention. He won his case and was granted permission to stay in the country with legal status.

Emile, whose name was changed to protect his identity, is one of more than 1,100 immigrants represented under the project in four immigration courts in New York.

The state announced Friday it will renew its two-year contract with the Vera Institute for Justice to continue representing detained immigrants facing deportation who can't afford a lawyer. Immigrants whose household income doesn't exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible to get an attorney. The program is also expanding this year to give representation to immigrants detained under prior deportation orders.

Last December, the Vera Institute said it needed $4.55 million to continue its work this year.
Since July 2017, New York has been the first and only state in the nation to provide representation to all detained impoverished immigrants. In Batavia Federal Detention Facility near Buffalo, more than one in three clients in the program were released between July 2017 and June 2018..."

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