Vera's Center on Immigration and Justice (CIJ) works with government, nonprofit partners, and communities to improve government systems that affect immigrants’ lives. CIJ focuses on two objectives: increasing immigrants’ access to legal services, and improving relationships between immigrant communities and law enforcement. The center administers legal services programs, develops and implements pilot programs, provides technical assistance, and conducts evaluation and empirical research.

Related Work

Implementing the Vision at the Local and State Level Summary

Advancing Universal Representation: A Toolkit for Advocates, Organizers, Legal Service Providers, and Policymakers

Universal representation—a public defender system for all immigrants facing deportation—is based on the fundamental belief that everyone deserves due process under the law. While a growing movement works toward a legally mandated and federally funded representation system, several counties, cities, and states have stepped up to fund deportation def ...

Publication
April 13, 2021
Publication

One Year Later, We Still Don’t Know How Many People in ICE Detention Have Been Exposed to COVID-19

Despite Vera’s efforts to track what ICE reports on COVID-19 in detention, the agency’s limited reporting remains insufficient for understanding the scope of this crisis and its implications for the treatment of people subject to detention in the future. Critical information—such as the total number of people at risk within facilities, who have bee ...

Blog Post
  • Noelle Smart
    Noelle Smart
  • Adam Garcia
    Adam Garcia
April 08, 2021
Blog Post

A Federal Defender Service for Immigrants

Why We Need a Universal, Zealous, and Person-Centered Model

The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) recommends that the Biden administration draw from time-tested models, data, and knowledge to build a federally funded, universal legal defense service that provides universal, zealous, and person-centered defense to all immigrants. This federal defender service should be modeled on the criminal federal defender ...

Publication
  • Vera Institute of Justice
February 09, 2021
Publication

Building the Movement Summary

Advancing Universal Representation: A Toolkit for Advocates, Organizers, Legal Service Providers, and Policymakers

The movement for universal representation—the idea that every immigrant facing detention and deportation should have the right to a publicly funded lawyer if they cannot afford one—continues to gain significant momentum. As a result of local and state campaigns, more than 40 jurisdictions across the country now fund deportation defense programs. Wi ...

Publication
January 14, 2021
Publication

Rising to the Moment: Advancing the National Movement for Universal Representation

Years 1-3 of the SAFE Initiative

In 2017, the Vera Institute of Justice launched the Safety and Fairness for Everyone Network—now known as the SAFE Initiative or “SAFE”—to counter the fundamental and urgent injustices facing immigrants caught up in the nation’s immigration enforcement system. With roots in Vera's work for the past 15 years building the government-funded removal de ...

Publication
December 15, 2020
Publication

Series: Target 2020

The Tipping Point for Universal Representation for Immigrants

In early October, ICE reported that, within a six-day span, it arrested 172 immigrants across six “sanctuary cities”: Baltimore, Denver, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, DC. These cities all have policies in place that are intended to foster trust between local law enforcement and immigrants in their jurisdictions, and yet parents, ...

Blog Post
  • Melissa Garlick
    Melissa Garlick
  • Annie Chen
    Annie Chen
October 29, 2020
Blog Post