Evaluation of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project: Assessing the Impact of Legal Representation on Family and Community Unity

Report Author: 
Jennifer Stave et al
Original Date of Publication: 
2017 Nov

The right to be represented by legal counsel is a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, but not for immigrants in deportation proceedings. Two-thirds of detained immigrants face such proceedings without an attorney, and pay a price as a result. Unrepresented immigrants at the Varick Street Immigration Court in New York, for example, stand only a four percent chance of remaining in the country. Aware of this situation, the New York City Council began the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) to provide universal representation to immigrants in deportation proceedings who are below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. This study examines the NYIFUP from 2013 to 2016 using data from interviews, NYIFUP program records, and other sources including the U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review to compare NYIFUP case outcomes to similar cases in other cities. According to the report, NYIFUP won 48 percent of detained immigrants' cases (allowing immigrants to remain in the U.S), representing a 1,100 percent increase in successful outcomes over unrepresented cases. NYIFUP also nearly doubled the rate at which immigrants could be released from detention on bond from 25 percent to 49 percent. Even if the case is ultimately unsuccessful, release on bond allows immigrants to care for their families, work and contribute to tax revenue while their cases are adjudicated. As a result, NYIFUP was able to preserve family unity for many of its clients. The authors conclude that ensuring due process so "everyone is entitled to the same opportunity to access the law" through universal representation is a powerful achievement of the NYIFUP. (Yuki Wiland for The Immigrant Learning Center's Public Education Institute)

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  Assessing the Impact of Legal Representation on Family and Community Unity

Citation: 

Stave, J., Markowitz, P., Berberich, K., Cho, T., Dubbaneh, D., Simich, L., … Smart, N. (2017). Evaluation of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project: Assessing the Impact of Legal Representation on Family and Community Unity (p. 69). New York, NY: Vera Institute of Justice. Retrieved from https://storage.googleapis.com/vera-web-assets/downloads/Publications/ne...

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