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50+ Legal Organizations, Judges, Advocacy, Faith, and Labor Leaders Send Letter to Governor Murphy Encouraging Legal Representation Program for Immigrants Facing Deportation

Signers Include Archdiocese of New Jersey, Leading Law Firms and Legal Service Providers, and Retired Immigration Judges

New Jersey, January 29, 2018 – More than fifty leading New Jersey legal organizations, former immigration judges, law professors, faith and labor groups signed on to a letter urging Governor Phil Murphy to establish a publicly-funded universal representation program to provide appointed counsel to low-income New Jersey immigrants who are detained and facing potential deportation. About two-thirds of immigrants detained for civil immigration violations in New Jersey fight their cases without legal representation. Governor Murphy has called for a new state Office of Immigrant Protection to defend New Jersey immigrant families as immigration arrests and detentions skyrocket under the Trump administration. The letter is available here.

The lack of adequate legal representation for immigrants facing deportation in the Garden State has had an alarming impact on immigrant families. More than 87.5% of immigrants in New Jersey have U.S. citizen children. According to a report by Seton Hall Law School, those lacking legal representation are three times more likely to lose their case and be separated from their families. Detained immigrants are particularly vulnerable: only 14% of detained immigrants in New Jersey were able to avoid deportation without legal representation.

Over the past several years, twelve cities across the country and New York State have launched universal legal representation programs for low-income, detained immigrants. The first such program, the New York Immigrant Family Unity Program has successfully increased detained immigrants’ chances of avoiding deportation and staying united with their families by 1100%. Ensuring access to counsel decreases taxpayer dollars spent on detaining immigrants, supports the economy by keeping immigrants in the workforce and creates a more efficient and just legal system.

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