Carey Dunne, President of the New York City Bar, recently thanked Professor Mark Noferi and others from City Bar’s Immigration and Nationality Committee for “actively helping shape immigration legislation before Congress” to include groundbreaking provisions for appointed counsel to immigrants. The recently-passed Senate bill provides counsel in immigration proceedings to children, the mentally disabled, and particularly vulnerable for the first time. City Bar’s immigration committee, for which Professor Noferi chairs the detention section, also today applauded the New York City Council’s $500,000 grant for the “nation’s first public defender system for immigrants facing deportation,” as the New York Times described it.
Immigration detention has exploded in the past two decades, Professor Noferi noted in a recent Slate op-ed. In 1995, the system held 7,500 people on any one day. Now, it detains 34,000 on any one day and 429,000 throughout the year, in over 250 facilities routinely denounced for substandard conditions – at the cost of $2 billion a year for taxpayers.
These and other stark figures have resonated with policymakers. “We’re all aware of the need for immigration reform,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at today’s press conference. “We’re all aware that people are being deported. But these are statistics and information I wasn’t aware of.”
Congress should apply the New York model nationwide by providing appointed counsel to all indigent non-citizens in immigration proceedings, the New York City Bar’s press release said. Projected benefits include reduced detention, increased court efficiency, and reduced societal costs of caring for abandoned children, as Professor Noferi wrote.
Read more about Professor Noferi.