Respondents in immigration proceedings face detention, deportation and in many cases, permanent expulsion from the United States with no constitutional right to government-funded legal representation. Many of these immigrants have limited resources and cannot afford an attorney, leaving them unrepresented or vulnerable to unscrupulous and unauthorized individuals who exploit language barriers and exact exorbitant fees in exchange for providing incompetent and insufficient assistance. With the dramatic and rapid escalation of immigration enforcement policies and resources, efforts in providing effective and readily-available quality representation and assistance are necessary to promote a fair and just immigration court system. The dearth of adequate legal representation in immigration cases impedes an already overburdened court system, where judges are often left to fill in the gaps as they do their best to ensure that respondents receive fair treatment.
The mission and objective of the Committee on Immigration Representation is to examine the challenges faced by respondents and the courts in these matters and generate periodic reports and regular recommendations to improve the quality and availability of legal representation in immigration cases. The Committee will seek input from judges and attorneys with experience in immigration proceedings, and it will consider possible improvements to attorney training and CLE; expansion of pro bono opportunities; creation of referral services and legal orientation programs around the state to assist respondents, and work with NYSBA leadership and staff to move forward the Association’s goals of ensuring access to justice for all by focusing specifically on challenges faced by Immigrant communities. To achieve this, the Committee will continue to track and assess geographic distribution of immigration legal services for immigrants across New York State, as well as region-specific challenges across the various courts systems, with a focus on immigration-adjudicating agencies.
Meet the Chairs
Camille J. Mackler, Esq. is Director of Legal Initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition. In that role, Camille leads advocacy campaigns to improve resources available to support legal services, and advocates supports nonprofit immigration legal service providers by leading and more just laws and policies to benefit all immigrants, amongst and as well as . Most recently, she coordinated legal efforts at JFK airport during the travel ban targeting refugees and citizens of seven countries. She has successfully advocated for better protections for immigrants seeking legal assistance including helping pass a 2014 New York State law that was deemed one of the strongest consumer protection laws in the country that year, creating and chairing the Protecting Immigrant New Yorkers (PINY) Task Force since 2014, and pushing for the creation of immigrant concerns-specific units in 5 District Attorney offices so far. Nationally, Ms. Mackler helped get Nepal designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in 2015 and Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia re-designated in 2016. Since early 2017 she has spearheaded the creation of a legal service provider collaborative that includes nearly 60 organizational members so far who will pool expertise and resources to protect immigrants in the face of harsher penalties.
Ms. Mackler has also been very active in efforts to end family detention. She has volunteered at the Family Detention Center in Dilley, Texas and has supported the team at the center in Berks County, Pennsylvania. She remains involved in both efforts remotely from New York. In late 2016, she was part of a team of attorneys who launched Voices In Action in America (VIAA) a grassroots refugee resettlement effort that aims to support Central American refugee mothers and children as they arrive in New York, and help them add their voices to the national debate on immigration. She is an immigration attorney with over ten years of experience representing immigrants before US Immigration Courts and Federal Courts of Appeals and a frequent lecturer on immigration laws and policies. Prior to joining the NYIC, Ms. Mackler was in private practice and focused primarily on asylum and refugee, deportation proceedings, immigration detention, and family-based immigration issues.
Ms. Mackler has a Juris Doctorate from New York Law School and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. She currently serves as the co-chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Immigration Representation, and on the American Immigration Lawyers Association committees on Consumer Protection and Unauthorized Practice of Law (national) and Media & Advocacy (New York Chapter).
Professor Sarah Rogerson Directs the Immigration Law Clinic at Albany Law School, an experiential course through which students represent immigrant victims of crime including child abuse and neglect, domestic violence and sexual assault. Her students also regularly participate in related legislative advocacy and community outreach initiatives. Professor Rogerson worked as a public interest attorney in Newark, New Jersey and has represented immigrant adults and children in cases involving torture, domestic violence, and human trafficking at a human rights non-profit in Dallas, Texas. Her scholarship is focused on the intersections between domestic violence, family law, race, gender, international law and immigration law and policy.
Resources and Links to Pro Bono Opportunities