Using election cycles to secure funding

In New Jersey, the 2017 gubernatorial election of a pro-immigrant candidate created a high-profile opportunity to position universal representation as a priority among lawmakers. Local advocates were able to seize the opportunity and make the case for funding a statewide program, thanks to the groundwork they had laid in previous years. In 2015, the American Friends Service Committee started a privately funded universal representation pilot program, providing a model for the local coalition to build on.[]The Working Group on Immigrant Representation in New Jersey, Universal Representation: Why the Garden State Should Provide Access to Counsel for Detained Immigrants (South Orange, NY: The Working Group on Immigrant Representation in New Jersey, 2017), 2, And in 2016, Seton Hall University School of Law released a report that included statistics demonstrating the need for a publicly funded universal representation program.[]Lori A. Nessel and Farrin Anello, Deportation Without Representation: The Access-to-Justice Crisis Facing New Jersey’s Immigrant Families, (Newark, NJ: Seton Hall University, Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice, 2016),

Both during and after the 2017 gubernatorial election cycle, the coalition took additional action to secure funding for a universal representation program, including the following:

  • establishing relationships and getting an on-the-record public statement from the candidate in support of allocating public dollars for deportation defense;[]Phil Murphy: Democrat for Governor, “Murphy Calls for State Office to Assist Immigrants Caught in Trump’s Web,” January 30, 2017,
  • advising political campaign staff and elected officials on immigration policy; and
  • engaging in extensive advocacy postelection, including meetings, sign-on letters, and op-eds.[]Ted Sherman, “Groups Push N.J. to Provide Legal Assistance to Those Facing Deportation,” January 29, 2018, NJ Advance Media for,; and Susan Roy, “Why N.J. Immigrants Aren't Getting Fair Day in Court Before Deportation,” March 19, 2018, updated January 30, 2019, Star-Ledger,

As a result of this multipronged, multiyear campaign effort, Governor Phil Murphy allocated $2.1 million in his inaugural state budget in 2018 and $3.1 million in 2019 to provide deportation defense through New Jersey’s nonprofit legal service organizations.[]“Murphy OKs $3.1M for Immigrants Facing Deportation—$1M Boost,” July 1, 2019, New Jersey 101.5–Townsquare Media, A diverse and growing coalition has continued to advocate that Governor Murphy fully fund deportation defense for detained immigrants.[]“Sixty Leading NJ Faith, Community and Advocacy Organizations Send Letter to Gov. Murphy Urging Full Funding for Legal Defense for Detained Immigrants,” February 7, 2020, InsiderNJ, The coalition continues to publish advocacy reports to support its ongoing efforts.[]American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, American Friends Service Committee, Make the Road New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, and Seton Hall Law School Immigrants’ Rights/International Human Rights Clinic, Due Process for All: Promoting Access to Justice for Immigrants in New Jersey (2019),