City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Committee on Immigration Chair Carlos Menchaca announced today that the City Council is dedicating $16.6 million of this year’s budget to fund and expand the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), the nation’s first public defender system for detained immigrants facing deportation. NYIFUP, funded by the City Council, is a program designed to provide free legal representation to eligible detained immigrants facing deportation. The funding for Fiscal Year 2020 for NYIFUP providers (The Bronx Defenders, Legal Aid Society, and Brooklyn Defender Services) will help ensure detained immigrants continue to have access to legal counsel and due process as the Trump Administration continues to ramp up immigration enforcement.

In response to the increased number of deportation cases, funding for NYIFUP has also been increasing. For Fiscal year 2017, the Council dedicated $6,582,000; $10 million for FY 2018; $11.6 million for FY 2019; and $16.6 million for FY 2020.

NYIFUP providers have been representing detained immigrants since 2014, offering critical legal services to New Yorkers facing deportation. Because of case backlog in New York City, with over 115,000 cases, more and more immigrant New Yorkers are remaining in detention while their legal case completion timelines are extended.

According to an estimate by the Vera Institute of Justice, New Yorkers represented by a NYIFUP attorney have a 48% success rate in their cases, as oppose to a 4% success rate by immigrants who lack legal representation.

“In response to Trump’s continued demonization of immigrants and to fight against the ICE deportation machine, it is evident that we need more attorneys to represent New Yorkers in need. No family should be torn apart because they can’t afford a lawyer while fighting deportation. Last week, in the ongoing efforts to speed deportations, the Executive Office for Immigration Review opened a new immigration court at 290 Broadway. As part of the Council’s long-standing commitment in helping immigrant New Yorkers, I am proud of my colleagues at the City Council as we were able to dedicate $16.6 million to provide lawyers to push back against the federal administration’s lack of regard for due process. I commend NYIFUP attorneys for the crucial work they do to protect our immigrant communities,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.      

“The Council-funded family unity project is a first in the nation program to set the standard for how to keep families together in our broken immigration system,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Immigration Committee. “Today, we are demonstrating the Council’s foresight once again by boosting the program’s funding. This will enable our tireless providers to combat the Trump Administration’s cynical attempt to boost deportations by creating more immigration courts. I thank the Speaker for being a true champion of all New Yorkers and am proud to celebrate this funding with the program’s providers.”

“This funding will help protect immigrant New Yorkers who are at risk of being deported,” said NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. “It is no secret that our nation’s immigration system has been broken for decades⁠—and that the situation has been made much worse by the Trump administration.  These dollars will ensure that legal service providers have the resources they need to defend immigrant New Yorkers from unjust policies that should never have seen the light of day in the first place.  I am proud to stand with NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Immigration Chair Carlos Menchaca and the many advocates here today in the fight for justice for our immigrant communities.”

“Across the country we are seeing hundreds of immigrants impacted by this administrations racist policies. We are all foreigners to this nation, but it’s our diversity that makes this country great. We must stand alongside all of our immigrants now more than ever,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Co-Chair of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus “I am proud to be standing alongside Speaker Corey Johnson, Immigration Committee Chairman Menchaca, and other colleagues as we increase the fight to protect all immigrants.” 

“New York City has taken a stand to defend immigrant New Yorkers by fully funding NYIFUP,” said Andrea Saenz, Attorney-in-Charge of NYIFUP at Brooklyn Defender Services. “The Trump administration is opening new immigration courts and expanding dockets in an effort to push people through a broken system as quickly as possible without due process. This funding will ensure that all New Yorkers unjustly detained by ICE and facing deportation will have the right to an attorney to fight for their liberty. We thank the New York City Council, particularly Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, and Council Member Daniel Dromm for ensuring this crucial program is funded.”

“Our detained clients and all immigrant New Yorkers facing deportation proceedings in our courts deserve full transparency by EOIR and DOJ to ensure that their fundamental fairness and due process rights are upheld,” said Jennifer Williams, Deputy Attorney-in-Charge of the Immigration Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “The rapid expansion and complete lack of transparency around the opening of new immigration courtrooms underscores this Administration’s intent to speed up deportations and the critical need for right to counsel. We thank the City Council for fully funding NYIFUP so that we can continue to zealously represent our detained clients to ensure that no one ever has to face deportation proceedings alone.” “Due process rights of immigrants are under attack, and the lack of transparency around the opening of new immigration courtrooms makes clear that the intended purposes of this expansion is to rev up the Trump Administration’s deportation machine. NYIFUP’s mission has never been more vital and we’re thankful to the City Council for ensuring we have the funding and support needed to continue to effectively fight for the rights of immigrant New Yorkers,” said Sarah Deri Oshiro, Managing Director of the Immigration Practice at The Bronx Defenders.