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
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.