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Spotlight

Walls and Bridges

Legal Recourse for Immigrants in the Age of Zero Tolerance

Vera is committed to securing equal justice for all people, regardless of race, nationality, or country of origin, and to ending mass incarceration while strengthening families and communities. These bedrock values are under siege on our southern border as immigrants flee violence and persecution in pursuit of asylum, family reunification, and a better life in the United States only to face a “zero tolerance” policy. The obstacles facing unrepresented immigrants, and detained immigrants in particular, are immense as they traverse a labyrinth of American immigration law. Yet almost no non-citizens are legally entitled to government-funded representation, and most go unrepresented, facing permanent separation from their loved ones and often unsafe conditions if deported.

This collection of Vera's work spotlights our efforts to expand legal representation and protect due process for immigrants facing detention and deportation.

ICON is a resource for parents who have been separated from their children due to the administration’s zero tolerance policy—as well as for the attorneys for these parents—to locate and connect with the legal service providers (LSPs) working with their children. ICON also seeks to ensure due process for these separated children and their families.

Operation Streamline

No Evidence that Criminal Prosecution Deters Migration

The mass criminal prosecution and incarceration of people entering the country without authorization along the Southwest border has been acclaimed as a success in deterring others from making the same journey. Analysis by the Vera Institute of Justice and Dr. Jonathan Kringen of the University of New Haven, however, shows that there is no evidence ...

Publication
  • Michael Corradini, Laura Simich, Karen Berberich, Jonathan Kringen, Meredith Emigh
June 06, 2018
Publication
The mass criminal prosecution and incarceration of people entering the country without authorization along the Southwest border has been acclaimed as a success in deterring others from making the same journey. However, analysis shows that there is no evidence to support claims that a highly-touted example of this tactic—Operation Streamline—had a deterrent effect.

Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Network

Local Leaders Keeping Immigrant Families Together and Communities Safe

In the face of stepped-up immigration enforcement, millions of non-citizens—many of them taxpaying lawful permanent residents—are at risk of extended detention and permanent separation from their families and communities. Expanding legal representation for immigrants facing detention and deportation has thus become a crucial last line of defense fo...

Project
  • Annie Chen
    Annie Chen
Project
SAFE Cities is a group of geographically and politically diverse local jurisdictions from around the country that are committed to keeping communities safe and strong by protecting due process and providing legal representation to immigrants facing deportation.

Evaluation of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project

Assessing the Impact of Legal Representation on Family and Community Unity

This study evaluates the impact of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP). NYIFUP is the nation’s first public defender system for immigrants facing deportation—defined as those in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Funded by the New York City Council since July 2014, the program provides a free attorney to almost all de...

Publication
  • Nina Siulc, Karen Berberich, Tammy Cho, Laura Simich, Noelle Smart, Jennifer Stave, Danny Dubbaneh, Peter Markowitz
November 09, 2017
Publication
This study evaluates the impact of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP). NYIFUP is the nation’s first public defender system for immigrants facing deportation. Vera estimates that 48% of cases will end successfully for NYIFUP clients, a 1,100% increase for unrepresented cases before inception of the project.
The Immigration Technical Assistance Center (ITAC) is a publically-accessible, searchable, online resource that contains materials on substantive and procedural immigration issues. Through ITAC, Vera will share a growing library of technical support resources with the immigrant advocacy community in support of our goal of increasing overall capacity for immigration representation.

Legal Services for Unaccompanied Children

Increasing pro bono legal representation for immigrant children facing deportation without a parent or legal guardian

Each year, thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing war and poverty enter the United States. They are detained in federal custody in shelters contracted by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), and placed in removal (deportation) proceedings without the benefit of an appointed attorney. Vera works nationwide to provide legal services and rep...

Project
  • Anne Marie Mulcahy
    Anne Marie Mulcahy
Project
The Unaccompanied Children Program provides legal services and representation to unaccompanied children in removal proceedings to ensure that no child appears in immigration court alone.

New York State Becomes First in the Nation to Provide Lawyers for All Immigrants Detained and Facing Deportation

New York, NY – The Vera Institute of Justice and partner organizations today announced that detained New Yorkers in all upstate immigration courts will now be eligible to receive legal counsel during deportation proceedings. The 2018 New York State budget included a grant of $4 million to significantly expand the New York Immigrant Family Unity Pro...

Press Release
April 07, 2017
Press Release
The 2018 New York State budget included a grant of $4 million to significantly expand the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), a groundbreaking public defense program for immigrants facing deportation that was launched in New York City in 2013. As a result, New Yorkers in all upstate immigration courts are now eligible to receive legal counsel during deportation proceedings.
The Legal Orientation Program educates detained immigrants about their rights and the immigration court process so that they can make informed decisions about their legal cases. The program, funded by the Executive Office for Immigration Review and administered by Vera, operates at 38 detention facilities across the country.

The Flow of Unaccompanied Children through the Immigration System

A Resource for Practitioners, Policymakers, and Researchers

Every year, thousands of unaccompanied children are detained in the U.S. immigrant system. These children—who are not afforded the right to free public defense—must often navigate a web of laws, policies, and government agencies alone. Vera, with funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), works with a national network of legal service p...

Publication
  • Olga Byrne
February 29, 2012
Publication
The legal process for unaccompanied children detained by U.S. immigration is incredibly complex—this report provides a thorough overview of this system as a resource for practitioners, policymakers, and researchers working to help these children.
A three-year study by the Vera Institute of Justice proved that immigrants do not need to be in detention to appear in court, and that alternatives are more cost effective and humane.