One Big Thing Cities Can Do on Immigration

Most immigrants don’t have lawyers in their deportation hearings. Local governments are starting to fund them.

Op-Ed (NATIONAL, Pennsylvania)

Helen Gym
October 26, 2020

Tags: Civil Right to Counsel, Deportation, Immigration, Immigration Process


Currently, 70% of people in detention lack government-funded legal representation. The impacts of this injustice are severe: In the past 20 years, only 8% of people without a lawyer were spared deportation.

But political forces at the local level are providing some hope. In the midst of this chaos, a movement has been building to provide lawyers for all immigrants facing deportation through local collaborations.

Prior to 2017, locally funded programs to provide public defenders to those facing deportation existed in only two states. Today, there are nearly 40 jurisdictions across 18 states that provide lawyers to as many immigrants as possible facing deportation.