“Every year, tens of thousands of people appear in immigration court to fight deportation orders without a lawyer to assist them,” writes Reporter Kirk Semple in a recent article published in The New York Times. “Many are poor and adrift, unable to speak English or understand the laws determining their fate.”
Yet according to a study just released by the New York Bar Association that Mr. Semple describes, a system that provided legal counsel for every poor immigrant facing deportation would pay for itself through decreased government expenditures and other savings.
“It makes the argument for the first time that appointed counsel is cost-effective, as well as being fair and just,” said Mark Noferi, a fellow at the Center for Migration Studies, who advised National Economic Research Associates (NERA) on the report.
Catholic Charities knows firsthand the value of providing free or affordable legal counsel. For over thirty years, Catholic Charities has stood with New York’s immigrants—low-income and indigent, non-Catholics and Catholics alike—who face deportation in the courts, in local detention facilities, and, most recently, in custodial shelters for unaccompanied children where we serve almost 2,000 children each year.
We understand that deportation can be a far worse punishment than most criminal penalties, one that might mean the loss of family, home and security. Every week, in shelter facilities for unaccompanied youth across the New York area, our team of lawyers and paralegals encounter many of the thousands of children in the United States who have fled alone, from abuse and violence in their homelands and who seek the comfort of a parent or loved one here.
Every month at our offices downtown, we meet and defend newcomers and long-time residents against unjust deportation proceedings. Some had all their money taken by unscrupulous or unlawful practitioners. Some have been tangled for years in a legal system that is among the most complex and under-resourced in the nation. Some are profoundly disoriented from just arriving to the United States after fleeing persecution or violence. Almost all are exhausted and without hope.
The legal consultation, representation, and assistance Catholic Charities provides each day is what immigrants need to rebuild their lives. It is what creates hope and a just and compassionate society.
Services are provided in English, Spanish, French, Romanian, Polish, Albanian, Japanese, and Arabic.
All matters are treated professionally and confidentially.
If you have a question about an immigration matter, please call us at the New Americans Hotline at 800-566-7636.
For help finding other services, please call our Catholic Charities Help line at 888-744-7900.
Read the full cost-analysis study.
Read the full story in The New York Times.