Securing Equal Justice

Supporting Immigrants

The image of America as a nation of immigrants has never been more true to life. Forty-two million foreign-born people live in the United States; a new immigrant arrives every 28 seconds. Unlike previous generations, they’re moving beyond traditional gateway cities to make homes in large and small communities throughout the country, some of which were virtually untouched by immigration until recently.

With our partners in government, we’re working to ensure that justice, in the form of fundamental legal protections and services, is available to them. That involves building trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement agencies and overcoming language barriers, so that the motto “protect and serve” genuinely applies to everyone. We’re also working to understand and meet the needs of the growing number of vulnerable children who enter the United States alone, and giving people facing deportation—many who have lived here for years—a fair shot in immigration court.

Related Work

Compassion, Not Confinement

How States and Localities Can Help Ensure Humane Housing for Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Awaiting Family Reunification

In the first five months of 2021, about 65,000 children were apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after arriving in the United States unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian. These children come to the United States seeking protection, stability, and a chance to reunite with their families, but are instead processed at federa ...

Publication
  • Shaina Aber, Lauren Esterle, Derek Loh
June 16, 2021
Publication

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

Immigration Courts Are Acting Like Business as Usual During the Pandemic, with Dire Consequences

Protecting the rights of immigrants facing deportation has always been challenging. But the pandemic has made it harder to communicate with clients, coordinate witnesses, and obtain evidence. Immigration courts and detention facilities have failed to provide adequate technology, time, and support to ensure due process. “They've seen it as business ...

Blog Post
  • Erica Bryant
    Erica Bryant
March 03, 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