Washington D.C. –President Trump has authorized a dramatic increase in efforts to detain and deport immigrants, using a system that lacks fundamental due process protections like the guarantee of legal representation. More than half of all noncitizens – and more than 80 percent of detained noncitizens – face immigration court without lawyers by their sides. Demand for representation in immigration court far outstrips the supply of trained attorneys. This lack of a fair process undermines the integrity of the entire system and is unacceptable.
The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) are responding to this representation crisis with an Immigration Justice Campaign, a new initiative to prepare more lawyers to be cutting-edge defenders of immigrants facing deportation. The initiative will support a corps of attorneys mobilized to defend immigrants by training new volunteer lawyers from all fields, facilitating new pro bono representation opportunities, and employing innovative mentorship strategies to leverage the expertise of the immigration bar.
With a focus on detained deportation defense, the Immigration Justice Campaign will promote zealous representation and litigation strategies to challenge the dysfunction and disregard for due process that exists in immigration court. In the process, the Immigration Justice Campaign will build momentum for updating and improving the immigration system.
At a time when the immigration enforcement dragnet is widening, the importance of a robust and aggressive community of attorneys to challenge harsh enforcement policies case by case, immigrant by immigrant, is more pressing than ever before. Infusing large numbers of lawyers into a deportation system that depends on detaining immigrants in remote locations and limiting access to information will significantly change the way the government can and will conduct immigration enforcement.
To learn more about the work already underway and our collaborations with the American Immigrant Representation Project, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, and the Stand With Immigrants campaign and others, visit our Immigration Justice Campaign page. To volunteer, visit www.ImmigrationJustice.us.