The Speaker and the Council Member recently visited the
Varick Street Immigration Court to learn the ongoing casework at the facility
New York, NY – Today, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Immigration Committee, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio, announced an emergency $1.6 million allocation through a transparency resolution to fund the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), the nation’s first government-funded legal representation program for detained and non-detained immigrants. The City Council approved this afternoon a budget modification which funded the increase for NYIFUP.
The emergency funding builds on the $10 million that was already secured for the current Fiscal Year 2019. The funds will help NYIFUP lawyers represent immigrants facing deportation in the two immigration courts located in New York City, one at Varick Street and the other one at 26 Federal Plaza.
“There is an
urgent need to increase legal funding to help immigrants facing
deportation. I am proud we were able to reach an agreement with Mayor Bill
de Blasio to provide additional funds to NYIFUP. This emergency funding will
help us provide more attorneys to New Yorkers in need. This is crucial
right now as the ICE deportation machine has ramped up efforts to
interfere with the necessary work NYIFUP is doing by pushing people through the
system with zero regard for due process. I will continue to fight these
un-American and horrific immigration policies. I want to commend the amazing
and crucial work provided by the attorneys through NYIFUP,” said
“While the Trump Administration continues to demonize immigrants, we know that their contributions are part of what makes our city great,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We are proud to help provide desperately needed legal representation in the face of punitive federal policies.”
“Since its establishment through Council funds in 2014, NYIFUP has served as a model of universal legal representation for immigrants facing deportation. This injection of much needed funds ensures this can continue to be the case, even in the face of the Trump Administration’s mounting attacks on our immigrant communities,” said Chair of the Committee on Immigration Carlos Menchaca. “I thank the Mayor and the Speaker for their undaunted leadership, and look forward to continuing to partner in ensuring that all immigrants facing deportation can avail themselves of legal representation as a critical right.”
“NYIFUP has served as New York City’s primary public defender representing detained immigrants fighting their removal since 2014. This generous allocation will strengthen our ability to keeping fighting back against the Trump Administration’s relentless attacks meant to divide and destroy families in our own background. We applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson for ensuring that no New Yorker detained by ICE goes unrepresented before an immigration court,” said NYIFUP providers Adriene Holder, Attorney-In-Charge of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society, Justine Olderman, Executive Director of The Bronx Defenders, and Lisa Schreibersdorf, Founder and Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services.
Last week, Speaker Johnson and Council Member Menchaca visited the Executive Office for Immigration Review at Varick Street, commonly known as immigration court, where they followed three of the cases taking place in one of the five courtrooms in the federal building. Speaker Johnson and Council Member Menchaca were joined by supervising attorneys from The Bronx Defenders and Brooklyn Defender Services, two of the NYIFUP providers, along with the Legal Aid Society.
Under the Trump administration, there is no prioritization scheme for initiating deportation for immigrants considered removable. As a result of ensuing backlogs, more and more immigrants are remaining in detention –many over 6 months– while their legal case completion timelines are extended. Bond, which is typically set at a minimum of $1,500, is rarely granted. When bond is granted, the amounts set are generally unattainable for working class families. Recently, a judge at Varick Street set bond in a case for $25,000, to be paid in full, in cash.