N.J. will pay lawyers to help immigrants being deported

Effort being made to bring same policy to Pa.

Cherri Gregg
July 03, 2018 - 6:30 pm
Protesters gather in front of the Collier County Courthouse in Naples to rally against the current immigration policies and to call for the reunification of families that were separated at Mexico's border.

© Dorothy Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

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NEW JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey's state budget includes money to help pay attorneys to represent immigrants fighting deportation. 

Garden state lawmakers agreed to allocate $2.1 million to help pay for legal representations in deportation matters. As it stands, non-citizens have no right to a lawyer in civil matters, even if detained.

"It's the politics of scarcity and when you're faced with making choices, immigrants often don't win out," said Cathryn Miller-Wilson, executive director of HIAS Pennsylvania, a nonprofit that provides legal services to immigrants. 

The need is high, and there's also an effort to bring a similar deal to Pennsylvania.

HIAS is a part of a coalition that includes the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center and Nationalities Services Center, which has been working since last year to get Pennsylvania to pay for a $600,000 pilot program to get more lawyers to help those immigrants detained in York.

"Which would allow us to make the case and expand it further," Miller-Wilson added.

She said in Pennsylvania, detained immigrants are deported at higher rates and less likely to have attorneys than those immigrants who remain free. 

Additionally, immigrants with lawyers in Pennsylvania are 12 times more likely to win their cases than those without.