News Story (Pennsylvania)
July 16, 2019
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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.