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.
Resources and Links to Pro Bono Opportunities