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For Immediate Release:

NYS LIBERTY DEFENSE PROJECT & VERA EXPAND LEGAL REPRESENTATION TO IMMIGRANTS FACING DEPORTATION PROCEEDINGS

LDP secures two-year contract with Vera Institute of Justice’s New York Immigrant Family Unity Project; Legal representation expanded to include immigrants detained under older orders of removal as well as those facing deportation proceedings

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado today announced that the Liberty Defense Project (LDP) and The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) will continue to provide legal representation to detained immigrants facing deportation proceedings across New York State. Vera’s New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) will also expand to provide representation to immigrants who have been detained under prior orders of removal.

New York State will continue to support NYIFUP as part of the LDP for two additional years, providing legal representation to every eligible, otherwise-unrepresented immigrant facing deportation at the Batavia, Ulster, Downstate, and Bedford Hills immigration courts.

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “The Vera Institute of Justice’s work has helped hundreds of New Yorkers fight back against the Trump Administration’s callous immigration policies. Governor Cuomo’s Liberty Defense Project is proud to continue to partner with Vera and expand services so that we can provide effective legal representation to even more immigrant families.”

Nicholas Turner, President and Director of the Vera Institute of Justice said, “Immigrant communities are part of the fabric of our country, and we embrace them in New York. We do so proudly, especially in the face of draconian federal policies. With the Liberty Defense Project’s funding of NYIFUP in 2017, New York State became the first in the nation to provide lawyers for all immigrants detained and facing deportation. We are grateful for New York’s national leadership in continuing this critical program and hope that, with the more progressive leadership in Albany, it will further expand to include non-detained immigrants in next year’s budget. Not only does such public funding deliver on our country’s promise of fairness and due process, it keeps families together, maintains trust within our communities, and increases public safety.”

In July 2017, under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State became the first state in the nation to make legal representation available to every detained immigrant facing deportation. The LDP and the NYIFUP have handled approximately 1,100 such cases since then, primarily at the Batavia and Ulster Immigration Courts. In Batavia, the successful partnership resulted in the release of more than 1/3 of clients between July 2017 and June 2018.

NYIFUP will now provide immigrants detained on old orders of removal with full legal representation – as well as those currently facing deportation proceedings. Many of these law-abiding immigrants have been living in the United States for decades and have established their families here. In these instances, only a successful motion to reopen their deportation case would put them into removal proceedings and therefore make them eligible for representation under the program.

The NYIFUP provides deportation defense at Batavia, Ulster, Downstate, and Bedford Hills Immigration Courts to all detained immigrants whose household income does not exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, who are not otherwise represented, and who desire representation. The program also provides legal representation in New York City for clients who have their venues moved from one of the upstate immigration courts.

Vera is subcontracting with the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP), Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York (PLS) and New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). Approximately 900 cases are expected to be handled between just these three entities.

About the New York State Liberty Defense Project
In 2017, Governor Cuomo launched the Liberty Defense Project – the first-in-the-nation, state-led public-private project to assist immigrants – regardless of status – in obtaining access to legal services and process. The project is administered by the Governor’s Office for New Americans and run in partnership with law firms, legal associations, advocacy organizations, major colleges and universities and bar associations. The Liberty Defense Project provides:

Since its inception in 2017, the Liberty Defense Project has been a front line of defense against federal policies targeting immigrants, as well as the rise of arbitrary arrests and detention by ICE. It has provided more than 25,000 services to immigrants across New York State.

One third of the immigrants in New York-based detention provided with deportation defense representation under the LDP have been released and reunited with their families in their communities, where they are better positioned to receive continued legal assistance to prepare their cases in the hopes of finding long-term relief.

Any immigrant that needs free legal assistance is urged to call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636. All call information is confidential. Assistance is available in 200+ languages.

About the Vera Institute of Justice:
The Vera Institute of Justice is a justice reform change agent. Vera produces ideas, analysis, and research that inspire change in the systems people rely upon for safety and justice and works in close partnership with government and civic leaders to implement it. Vera is currently pursuing core priorities of ending the misuse of jails, transforming conditions of confinement, and ensuring that justice systems more effectively serve America’s increasingly diverse communities.

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