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Jurisdictions around the country are working to ensure immigrants have legal representation in deportation proceedings.

Unrepresented people in immigration court have only a 3 percent chance nationwide of outcomes that permit them to remain in the United States.Vera Institute of Justice, Embracing Human Dignity: Annual Report 2018 (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2018), 17.

In fact, 95 percent of immigrants who won their deportation cases between 2007 and 2012 had the assistance of counsel.Karen Berberich and Nina Siulc, Why Does Representation Matter? The Impact of Legal Representation in Immigration Court (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2018), 1. But because deportation cases are civil—not criminal—proceedings, there is no right to government-funded counsel.Karen Berberich and Nina Siulc, Why Does Representation Matter? The Impact of Legal Representation in Immigration Court (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2018), 1.

In 2018, a growing network of cities, counties, and states worked to ensure that all immigrants facing deportation have legal representation by making up the gap with legal defense funds. The Vera Institute of Justice’s Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Network, for example, currently partners with 12 cities and counties in eight politically and geographically diverse states.Nina Siulc and Karen Berberich, A Year of Being SAFE: Insights from the SAFE Network’s First Year (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2018). SAFE is part of a larger national movement of local and state leaders standing up to protect their immigrant residents by starting publicly funded deportation defense programs.

  • In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown’s 2019–2021 budget proposal includes a $2 million defense fund for immigrants in deportation proceedings, while the city of Portland approved a $500,000 grant for legal defense of residents facing deportation.For the Oregon budget, see Governor Kate Brown, Turning Point: A3333n Agenda for Oregon’s Future (Salem, OR: Office of the Governor, 2018), 29. For Portland’s legal assistance program grant, see Gordon R. Friedman, “Portland Grants $500K for Immigrants' Attorney Fees,” Oregonian, September 24, 2018.