The Center on Immigration and Justice's work includes:

Legal Services for Detained Noncitizens

Many people who are detained and facing deportation must represent themselves in immigration court because they do not have the right to government-funded legal assistance. Research shows that having a lawyer matters, and that having access to legal information is the next best thing. On a systems level, lack of legal services contributes to backlogs in immigration courts (for example, immigration judges must use court time to inform detained individuals about the court process) and frequently prolongs detention. In partnership with the federal government and a nationwide network of legal services subcontractors, Vera provides legal information and representation services to detained adults and children, improving people’s lives and helping government systems run more efficiently. Vera also works in coalitions on the state and local levels to pilot and study universal representation programs for all detained immigrants.

Policing in Immigrant Communities

Differing cultural norms and fear of police can be barriers to the trust and confidence needed for law enforcement agencies to serve immigrant communities. People who do not speak English well or fear deportation may choose not to report a crime or cooperate with law enforcement personnel. Vera's projects work with community members, as well as government and law enforcement officials, to help police cultivate, maintain—and in some cases, restore—partnerships with immigrant communities. The projects also identify and disseminate information about promising practices and practical strategies for enhancing police-immigrant collaboration.

Vera’s Commitment to Justice for Immigrants

Vera created the Center on Immigration and Justice to address the challenges presented by the convergence of the criminal justice and immigration systems. In the late 1990s, Vera designed, operated, and evaluated the Appearance Assistance Program (AAP) in partnership with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The AAP sought to reduce the government’s use of detention and ensure that people placed in this alternative to detention complied with the immigration court and deportation processes. Program participants achieved high levels of compliance with their immigration court obligations (91 percent) at a sharply lower cost to the government than detention.

For more information about Vera’s Center on Immigration and Justice, contact cijcoordinator@vera.org.