‘Sanctuary city’ of Philadelphia joins program to provide migrants with lawyers — a key to who stays or gets deported

The “sanctuary city” of Philadelphia and a New York-based justice institute outlined a plan Tuesday to provide lawyers for undocumented immigrants facing deportation — a key factor in whether they can stay in the United States and fight in the courts, or are quickly shipped out of the country.

News Story (Pennsylvania)

Jeff Gammage
Philadelphia Inquirer
July 16, 2019

Tags: Immigration

Organizations mentioned/involved: Vera Institute of Justice


The right to a lawyer may seem like a standard component of U.S. law, particularly when one’s liberty is at risk, but defendants in Immigration Court generally do not have the right to court-appointed counsel, and even young children can be forced to serve as their own lawyers.

The project announced Tuesday expands Vera’s two-year-old SAFE network, an acronym for Safety and Fairness for Everyone. It seeks to ensure that migrants have legal representation, much like the public-defender system in criminal courts.

In the SAFE program’s first year, 38 percent of those represented by lawyers were able to remain in the U.S. while their cases went forward. By comparison, only about 3 percent of those without attorneys were successful, according to the institute.