In partnership with the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera), 11 jurisdictions across the country formed the SAFE (Safety & Fairness for Everyone) Cities Network, an initiative to provide free legal representation to indigent detained immigrants.Dara Lind, “A New York Courtroom Gave Every Detained Immigrant a Lawyer. The Results Were Staggering.,” Vox, November 9, 2017; and “SAFE Cities Network Launches: 11 Communities United to Provide Public Defense to Immigrants Facing Deportation,” press release (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, November 9, 2017). The states of California and New York; Hennepin County, Minnesota; and the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC, also dedicated new funds to immigrant representation.Carter Sherman, “New York Dedicates Millions of Dollars to Help Immigrants Fight Deportations,” Vice, April 7, 2017; Jazmine Ulloa, “Nearly $50 Million in the California State Budget Will Go to Expanded Legal Services for Immigrants,” Los Angeles Times, June 15, 2017; and Mayor’s Office of Los Angeles, “Mayor Garcetti Announces Legal Fund to Fight for Immigrant Rights,” press release (Los Angeles: Mayor’s Office of Los Angeles, December 19, 2016).
These efforts have ensured that immigrants have meaningful opportunities to present their cases to remain in the United States and may decrease the time immigrants spend in detention. In New York City, for example, Vera found that universal representation for detained indigent immigrants in deportation proceedings produces successful outcomes in 48 percent of cases, an 1,100 percent increase from the 4 percent success rate prior to the program for cases in which detained immigrants did not have attorneys.Jennifer Stave, Peter Markowitz, Karen Berberich, Tammy Cho, Danny Dubbaneh, Laura Simich, Nina Siulc, and Noelle Smart, Evaluation of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project: Assessing the Impact of Legal Representation on Family and Community Unity (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2017).