Things That Matter

This Organization Is Offering Undocumented Immigrants Facing Deportation Free Legal Help

Undocumented immigrants facing deportation in some cities will soon have free legal representation through the Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Cities Network.

Credit: Mikael Owunna / U.S. Customs and Border Protection / Flickr

The program, according to a press release, includes 11 cities offering publicly-funded legal assistance.

SAFE aims to defend immigrants in the U.S. as they navigate the judicial system. Jurisdictions or cities applied to be part of the network through a proposal process. Those chosen were able to demonstrate “their commitment to deportation defense by investing public dollars,” as stated in the press release.

“Immigration is part of our nation’s past, present, and future, and our communities will find more opportunities to grow and thrive when we recognize and embrace this fact,” says Nicholas Turner, president of the Vera Institute of Justice. “That means that all residents must see their justice systems—from our law enforcement to our courts—as delivering on our country’s promise of fairness.”

Turner believes “common sense immigration policies” like the SAFE Cities Network ensure “that all people, regardless of background, income, and history, are guaranteed a fair day in court.”

Using public funding to aid immigrants facing deportation helps build trust, increases public safety and keeps families together, says Turner.

The Vera Institute of Justices, the organization that launched SAFE, created the network after studying the impact of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP). NYIFUP started in 2014 and has represented immigrants facing deportation who otherwise didn’t have access to legal resources.

According to the study, Vera found that immigrants that had adequate representation in court had a higher chance of winning their case before an immigration judge. Forty-eight percent of immigrants who had proper representation in court were successful in their cases – an increase of 1,100 percent. It’s a stark contrast to the four percent success rate typical in similar cases.

The SAFE Cities Network includes:

Atlanta, GA, Austin, TX, Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, Columbus, OH, Dane County in Wisconsin, Oakland/Alameda County in California, Prince George’s County in Maryland, Sacramento, CA, San Antonio, TX and Santa Ana, CA.


READ: Immigration Lawyer Says Daughter Who Recorded Dad Being Detained By ICE Saved Him

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ICE Has Gone Rogue As It Continues With Deportations Despite Several Policy Changes

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ICE Has Gone Rogue As It Continues With Deportations Despite Several Policy Changes

Long before taking office, President Biden vowed to undo many of the Trump administration’s most cruel and inhumane immigration policies within days of taking office. But despite several executive orders, Biden’s policies have met several roadblocks and swift changes in immigration policy have yet to arrive.

One major roadblock to ending deportations has been a federal judge that placed a hold on a Biden’s executive order and the other has been a “rogue agency” that’s continued several of Trump’s immigration policies.

Migrant rights advocates are calling ICE a “rogue agency” as it faces new allegations of abuse.

Although President Biden has outlined his immigration policy and installed his new head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – which oversees ICE – the White House still does not have full control of ICE, which faces multiple allegations of human rights abuses and allegations that it has disproportionately targeted Black migrants.

The agency also continues to deport immigrants who don’t fit the categories approved for deportation by DHS – even those who had been taken off deportation flights just hours before.

Many deportees are claiming that ICE has stepped up its torture of detainees.

Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Several migrant rights groups – Freedom for Immigrants, Al Otro Lado and Advocates for Immigrants Rights – published affidavits from Cameroonian asylum seekers who they said were tortured by being forced to approve their own deportations. The asylum seekers described being forced to the floor and having their fingers inked and pressed on to deportation documents they had refused to sign.

According to The Guardian, one Cameroonian asylum seeker described being brought into a room with darkened windows where he was forced by agents to put his fingerprint on a document in lieu of a signature, waiving his rights to further legal process before deportation.

“I tried to stand up because of the force that they were using on me, and they tripped me,” HT said. “I fell on the floor; I kept my hands under my body. I held my hands tight at waist level so they could not have them. Five of the Ice officers and one of the officers in green … joined them. They pressed me down and said that I needed to give them my finger for the fingerprint.”

One man was put on a flight to Haiti even though he’s not Haitian and had never been to that country.

And despite new directives from DHS and the Biden administration, ICE continues to carry out deportation flights containing people who fit none of the current criteria for deportation.

Just last week, Paul Pierrilus, a 40-year-old financial consultant from New York, who had never been to Haiti and is not a Haitian citizen, was taken off a deportation flight at the last moment after the intervention of his local congressman, Mondaire Jones. But just days later, ICE put him on another plane and sent him to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Jones told the Guardian: “Ice is a rogue agency that must be brought to heel. There is no world in which an agency under the control of the leader of the executive branch should continue to deport people after the president of the United States signed an executive order halting deportations for 100 days.”

However, the Biden administration has also moved forward on its own with many deportations.

It’s true that a federal judge ordered the Biden administration not to enforce a 100-day pause on deportations, but the ruling did not require the government to schedule them. However, the administration has moved forward on deportations for hundreds of immigrants within the past two weeks.

It’s unclear how many of those people are considered national security or public safety threats or had recently crossed the border illegally, the priority under new guidance that DHS issued to enforcement agencies.

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A Trump Judge Has Blocked Biden’s Pause On Deportations And People Are Asking What’s Next?

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A Trump Judge Has Blocked Biden’s Pause On Deportations And People Are Asking What’s Next?

Within hours of Biden’s temporary freeze of some deportations going into effect, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton requested a temporary restraining order against the Department of Homeland Security. He requested the court suspend President Biden’s 100-day deportation ban.

Now, thanks to a Trump-appointed federal judge it appears that his case against the Biden administration is working.

A federal judge has blocked Biden’s 100-day freeze on deportations.

Judge Drew Tipton, an appointee of Donald Trump, agreed with the Texas Attorney General that there was a chance the state would “suffer imminent and irreparable harm” if a temporary restraining order wasn’t granted. He also said the order won’t harm the defendants or the public, while adding that the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.” Tipton said the nationwide injunction is effective for 14 days, according to court documents.

The restraining order is an early blow to the Biden administration, which has proposed immediate changes to Trump’s cruel and inhumane immigration policies – including a plan to offer a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. without documentation.

Despite the setback, the Biden administration is expected to appeal the ruling, which halts the policy while both parties submit briefs on the matter.

Original Story Published January 22, 2021:

As soon as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, many across the country were ready to hold him accountable for the many promises he made on the campaign trail. Knowing the immense pressure he is under to keep these promises, President Biden wasted no time in getting to work through a flurry of executive actions in his first day on the job.

From the Oval Office, President Biden issues no less than 15 executive actions that impact everything from Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ to LGBTQ discrimination and immigration reform.

President Biden has placed a hold on most deportations for the next 100 days.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it would pause deportations of certain noncitizens for 100 days starting on January 22, delivering on one of President Joe Biden’s key campaign promises on immigration policy. 

The agency said in a statement that the moratorium will allow it to “review and reset enforcement priorities” after the Trump administration sought to ensure that no undocumented immigrants — including families and longtime US residents — were safe from deportation.

“The pause will allow DHS to ensure that its resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces, including immediate operational challenges at the southwest border in the midst of the most serious global public health crisis in a century,” the agency said.

So, who will be safe from deportation for the next 100-days under President Biden’s moratorium?

The 100-day deportation suspension applies to any noncitizen living in the interior of the United States, with some limited exceptions, not to people who recently crossed the border. Terrorists and suspected terrorists as well as anyone who engages in espionage or poses a threat to national security can still be removed, according to the memo

Also, noncitizens who entered the U.S. after Nov. 1 and people who volunteer to be removed can also be deported. The memo also says noncitizens can be removed if the director of ICE makes the determination they should be removed after consultation with other ICE officials.

The DHS memo also outlined who will be prioritized for deportation once the moratorium is over.

We’re also getting a better understanding of what will be President Biden’s enforcement priorities, which seem to reflect the president’s promises on the campaign trail that he would only deport people who have been convicted of a felony and explicitly not people with a DUI. Obama, by contrast, had deported immigrants with DUIs and minor offenses.

Most migrant advocacy groups praised the move even if they’re still raising lingering concerns.

It will give people fighting their deportation cases a chance to possibly remain in the U.S. and prevent more families from being separated while awaiting an overhaul of the immigration system including a legalization program for undocumented people that Biden has also promised, Sandra Solis, an organizer with the Phoenix-based Puente Movement, told AZ Central.

“This gives a small light at the end of the tunnel for folks of perhaps being able to fight their cases,” she said. “We are happy that right now there is a big pause but that is also where the organizing comes in where we have to put the agenda on the table of really getting more from this administration, not just the 100 days, but a pathway to citizenship.”

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