In addition to direct legal services and consultations, the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants Rights (NMCIR) engages in the following advocacy and community organizing initiatives to promote systemic immigration reform:
NMCIR is one of the lead organizations on the campaign to seek universal legal representation for all detained immigrants.
New York Immigrant Family Unity Project
Whole Families for a Stronger New York
The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) seeks to create the nation’s first institutionally-provided universal-representation program for detained immigrants facing deportation.
Why Does New York Need a System of Deportation Defense?
Between 2005-2010, more than 7,000 U.S. citizen children in New York City (NYC) alone lost a parent to deportation. For most of these families, deportation proceedings meant losing not only a loved one, but also a breadwinner. In the wake of deportation, remaining family members struggle to make ends meet, placing additional pressure on public support programs and, in the worst cases, leading to the placement of children—often U.S. citizens—in foster care. As a result, the estimated cost to NYC’s foster care system alone is $12.6 million a year. With a system for institutionally-provided counsel, far fewer families would be torn apart.
Each year, approximately 2,800 New Yorkers face permanent exile from their homes and families, while detained, without legal representation. Unlike in criminal proceedings, immigrants in deportation proceedings can be held in jail and forced to proceed against trained government lawyers with no legal assistance whatsoever. Indeed, over 60% of detained immigrants in New York have no lawyers. It is virtually impossible to win a deportation case if you are detained and unrepresented. Of those in this situation, only 3% prevail. But lawyers can make a huge difference, increasing success rates by approximately 1000%. Many of the affected New Yorkers have lived here legally for years and have deep ties to the community—indeed over 20% of those served would be green card holders. Moreover, over 60% of New Yorkers who are detained and facing deportation are held for nothing more than technical violations of immigration law—like overstaying a visa.
What is Unique About this System of Universal Representation?
NYIFUP would be the nation’s first government-funded deportation defense system, providing a basic measure of justice for New Yorkers and helping to ensure the unity of New York families. In time, NYIFUP would become a model for other jurisdictions that value their immigrants and counterbalance overtly hostile immigration policies enacted in states like Arizona and Alabama.
New York State has an opportunity to lead by making resources available to address a critically important unmet need and to keep New York families together. NYIFUP would provide a system of representation for detained New Yorkers facing removal that functions through a universal-representation, institutional-provider model with screening only for income eligibility. By contracting with a small group of institutional immigration legal service providers and by working in cooperation with key institutional actors such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), NYIFUP would capture efficiencies of scale and minimize administrative complexities.
Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights (NMCIR), with the support of the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo Law School (IJC), are eager to work with members to strengthen immigrant families and New York State as a whole. Please contact Angela Fernandez firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about this initiative.
Support the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project
The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project seeks to create the nation’s first institutionally provided universal representation program for detained immigrants facing deportation.
Unlike in criminal proceedings, immigrants in deportation proceedings can be held in jail and forced to proceed against trained government lawyers alone, without any legal assistance whatsoever – indeed 60% of detained immigrants in NY have no lawyers. The data we have uncovered demonstrates that it is virtually impossible to win your deportation proceeding if you are detained and unrepresented (only 3% of people in this situation prevail). But lawyers make a huge difference – lawyers can increase success rates by approximately 500% (even more for detained immigrants). In the last five years, over 7,000 New York City children lost a parent to deportation. With a program for appointed counsel, far fewer families would be torn apart.
The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project would be the nation’s first government-funded deportation defense system. It would provide a basic measure of justice for New York immigrants, helping to ensure the unity of New York families. In time, it would become a model for other jurisdictions that value their immigrants and provide a desperately needed counterbalance to the overtly hostile immigration policies coming out of places like Arizona and Alabama.
Recognizing that the nation’s broken deportation system is tearing New York families apart, leaving children without economic or familial support, and putting New York’s vital immigrant population in a fundamentally unfair legal position,
support a system of representation for detained immigrants facing removal that:
– Functions through a universal-representation, institutional-provider model with screening only for income eligibility.
– Operates through contracts with a small group of institutional immigration legal service providers who are in a position to handle the full range of removal cases and who can capture efficiencies of scale and minimize administrative complexities.
– Works in cooperation with key institutional actors such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office for Immigration Review to ensure efficient attorney-client communication, timely access to critical documents, and coordination of court calendars.
– Provides basic legal support services, such as access to necessary experts, and translation/interpretation, social work, mental health assessment, and investigative services.
– Derives funds primarily, or significantly, through a reliable public funding stream of new resources that does not divert existing resources from immigration service providers.
– Is overseen by an organization that provides oversight and project management.
The NYIFUP would provide representation to approximately 1,800 New Yorkers each year who face permanent exile from their homes and families, thereby, increasing the likelihood of keeping these New York families together, serve to counterbalance the hostile state‐level immigration initiatives across the country, and provide a roadmap for how more immigrant‐friendly jurisdictions, like New York, can lead the way in mitigating the worst aspects of our broken immigration system.
Community Organizing and Advocacy
Through our active participation with national and local immigrant groups, NMCIR addresses different policies which adversely impact the immigrant community. NMCIR also works on issues around civic participation, voter registration and voting.
NMCIR Campaign to Expand Judicial Discretion in Immigration Court
The Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IRAIRA) of 1996 bars immigration judges from taking into account case specific and extenuating circumstances (judicial discretion) when handing down rulings in cases involving legal permanent residents being charged of deportable crimes.
Through educational clinics, media outreach, and negotiations with government officials, NMCIR has been active in the fight to expand judicial discretion for immigration judges.
Since the 1996 Immigration Laws which heightened enforcement against immigrants, there has been a steady increase of Dominicans who are detained without legal representation and deported back to the Dominican Republic. Between 2000 and 2002, an estimated 10,500 Dominicans have been deported for both non-criminal and criminal activities.
Our approach to anti-deportation work is two-fold. In collaboration with Columbia Law School and Legal Aid Society, we connect individuals and families experiencing deportation to legal counsel and access to social services. In addition, the Coalition runs the “Families” program, in which families directly impacted by deportation share their experiences and support to new families, encountering the political and legal challenges of deportation for the first time. These monthly meetings foster solidarity between families, so they are not isolated through the process, and provides an opportunity for leadership building among affected individuals to speak about their experiences. We also work closely with our allies, Families for Freedom and Detention Watch, to collaborate on various anti-deportation organizing activities, including retreats for family members, Know-Your-Rights trainings, media campaigns, and mobilizations.
The meetings have resulted in the following recommendations: writing letters of support on behalf of nationals who will suffer hardship if deported, preventing the transfer of detainees to far locations where they cannot be visited by family or their advocates, informing detainees and their families of the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction, offering legal resources to those detained and their families, verifying that a detainee’s rights were not violated in prison, and ensuring that the detainee has exhausted all of her or his legal remedies.
NMCIR works to build political power through citizenship drives and voter registration throughout Northern Manhattan and the Bronx, in conjunction with the Hispanic Federation, NYIC, CUNY and the Daily News. In addition, NMCIR offers citizenship and ESL classes to teach potential new citizens about government and the importance of our involvement on issues that impact our day to day lives.
In 2004, NMCIR was active in Voter Education and Voter Registration Campaigns, supporting neighborhood residents to demonstrate their political choices through voting. From January 2005 through December 2006, 938 individuals applied for citizenship though the Coalition, increasing the voter turnout in the community by 17%. In 2006, NMCIR worked on the Democracy in Action campaign of the New York Immigration Coalition. Through this campaign, over 15,000 registered voters were contacted in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx to vote in the New York State Gubernatorial elections. As a result, the voter participation in these areas increased by more than 15%. We continue to participate in these Get Out The Vote (GOTV) initiatives.
Changing Policy, Changing Lives.
To advocate for long-term change, NMCIR, in conjunction with immigrant justice groups citywide, including Families for Freedom and the New York Immigration Coalition, mobilizes its members to testify before City Hall, in Albany, and Washington D.C., before public officials and the community at large. This serves to put a human face on the immigration struggle, and fosters leadership and outreach capacities among our base population.
At a Bronx Town Hall meeting, for example, the testimony of a US-born child Julio Beltre regarding the deportation of his father, garnered support from Congressman Jose Serrano, who endorsed the Child Citizenship Protection Act, which provides protection for the American-born children of immigrant parents.
Report by Leading Local and National Groups
Reveals How Statewide Public Defender System for Immigrants Would Reduce Hidden Costs of Detention and Deportation in New York State
The authoritative report of the massive deportation program, Secure Communities.
Click here to download the report.
NO MORE DEPORTATIONS
POLICE SHOULD NOT BE IMMIGRATION AGENTS
Join the coalition fighting to stop Secure Communities in New York.
For more information, please email: email@example.com
Find the New York State Working Group Against Deportation toolkit here:
NMCIR Deportation Report
On Thursday, April 30th, 2009, NMCIR released a report entitled “Deportado, Dominicano, y Humano: The Realities of Dominican Deportations and Related Policy Recommendations” (downloadable PDF) in order to bring to light the experience of one of the largest immigrant groups in New York and the North East – Dominicans. This report compiles the socio-political realities of deportation and provides policy recommendations to the governments of the United States, New York, and the Dominican Republic on how to alleviate the destruction deportation has caused in our community. This report was produced in collaboration with the New York University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic and received media coverage from El Diario, NY1, and Telemundo.