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Championing Appointed Counsel in Immigration Proceedings

Thursday, October 16, 2014; 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
There is no charge for this program; please sign in to register.

Today, the need for counsel in immigration proceedings has never been more urgent, as tens of thousands of children and families have come to the U.S. southern border fleeing gang violence and other abuses in Central America. In the last two years, unprecedented momentum has built toward providing appointed counsel to those in immigration proceedings. In 2013, the U.S. Senate passed legislation to provide counsel to children, certain mentally disabled persons, and particularly vulnerable persons in immigration proceedings. Recently, Vice President Joseph Biden organized federal efforts to provide counsel to unaccompanied children, with the federal Department of Health and Human Services committing $9 million over two years, and AmeriCorps committing nearly $2 million. New York has especially championed progress. The New York City Council has committed $4.9 million to the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, the first-ever public defender program for immigrant detainees, and has marshaled $1.9 million in funding to provide lawyers for unaccompanied children. Likewise, the New York State Assembly has recently held hearings on the plight of unaccompanied children and is considering its response.

Panelists will discuss legislation, lessons learned from direct service initiatives, and evidence that supports appointed counsel in different types of immigration proceedings. Panelists will include:
Speakers: Hon. Hakeem Jeffries, Congressman, Eighth Congressional District (New York), and original co-sponsor, Vulnerable Immigrant Voice Act (VIVA Act), H.R. 4936
Lenni B. Benson, Director, Safe Passage Project; Professor, New York Law School; Chair, New York City Bar Association Immigration & Nationality Law Committee
Dr. John M. Montgomery, Senior Vice President, NERA Economic Consulting and author, "Cost of Counsel in Immigration: Economic Analysis of Proposal Providing Public Counsel to Indigent Persons Subject to Immigration Removal Proceedings"
Andrea Saenz, Fellow, Cardozo Law School Immigration Justice Clinic; leading advocate, New York Immigrant Family Unity Project

Moderator: Mark Noferi, Enforcement Fellow, American Immigration Council, Washington DC

Sponsored by: Committee on Immigration & Nationality Law, Lenni B. Benson, Chair


42 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036


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