Professor Peter Markowitz

Cardozo’s Leadership Recognized in Report on Program that Provides Access to Legal Representation for Immigrant Families Facing Deportation

New York, New York - November 9, 2017 - As immigrants in America face the very real threat of mass deportations, Cardozo School of Law is part of a coalition responsible for building a program that provides free legal assistance to families facing such actions. A new study concludes that the program has had tremendous impact, improving success rates for those facing deportation in New York by over 1,000 percent.

Cardozo Professor Peter Markowitz chaired the committee that led to the creation of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP). The New York City Council funded the program in 2014 and the result is that no detained immigrant facing deportation in New York goes without a lawyer. The NYIFUP program is the first of its kind in the country and over a dozen jurisdictions in the U.S. are using this model to create government-funded deportation defense projects, according to the study.

“NYIFUP has triggered a sea change in the quality and quantity of justice for immigrants in New York,” said Markowitz, who was also a member of the study group. “No New Yorker should have their loved one locked up and deported simply because they can’t afford counsel, and now that is the case.”

The study, conducted by the non-partisan Vera Institute of Justice and co-authored by Professor Markowtiz, found that previously more than four out of every ten immigrants in deportation proceedings were being deported — not because they didn’t have a legal right to stay in this country, but because they could not afford a lawyer to make their case. The Vera study found the success rate jumped from 4 percent for unrepresented immigrants before the program to 48 percent in cases where immigrants facing deportation were provided legal representation.

The Vera report measured the fiscal impact of the program on New York City and concluded there was an increase of  $2.7 million in tax revenue annually from the individuals who were permitted to stay in the country and keep their jobs. A new cohort of individuals will compound that number each year.

The Cardozo Immigration Justice Clinic was one of five organizations that convinced the New York City Council to fund the program, and Cardozo was the only law school in the coalition. The report states that deportation proceedings are the only cases where the government has teams of lawyers working against individuals without representation.

“It is an outrage that our government locks people up and forces them to litigate their liberty against trained government attorneys in one of the most complex arenas of American law, without any assistance from an attorney,” said Markowitz.

“It is an outrage that our government locks people up and forces them to litigate their liberty against trained government attorneys in one of the most complex arenas of American law, without any assistance from an attorney,” said Markowitz.