BALTIMORE, Feb. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC), the country's first fellowship program dedicated to meeting immigrants' needs for high-quality legal counsel, announced today a two-year Access to Counsel Initiative in partnership with the Capital Area Immigrants' Rights (CAIR) Coalition that will provide representation to all Prince George's County, Maryland, residents detained in immigration custody.
The initiative will extend quality legal counsel to all residents of Prince George's County who are detained without representation in detention centers across Maryland. There is no right to appointed counsel in immigration proceedings, but immigrants with representation are nearly six times more likely to have a successful outcome than those without representation. In Maryland, as many as 81 percent of detained immigrants proceed unrepresented in immigration court. On any given day, there are at least 300 Prince George's County residents detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Maryland.
"High-quality legal assistance is the most direct intervention available to support immigrant families facing the risk of detention and deportation. We are confident that together with CAIR Coalition, this two-year pilot in Maryland will show how access to counsel, regardless of the merits of the case, results in better outcomes for immigrants, their families and for justice and due process," said Jojo Annobil, Immigrant Justice Corps' Executive Director.
Starting in September 2020, six Immigrant Justice Corps Justice Fellows (immigration attorneys), and three Community Fellows (immigration advocates) will be assigned to CAIR Coalition to assist in providing legal representation to every single unrepresented detained person in Prince George's County. This is the largest ever cohort of IJC Fellows assigned to one host site and will significantly expand access to lifesaving representation in the area.
"Immigrant Justice Corps, by providing true universal representation to all Prince George's County residents detained by ICE, is shining a beacon of light for all of our communities at risk of immigration detention," said Eric Lopez, CAIR Coalition's Managing Attorney.
CAIR Coalition has taken on 52 unrepresented cases in the Prince George's County jurisdiction. The average length of residence of individuals in the area is 11 years, with some individuals residing in the U.S. for decades. Of the cases that CAIR Coalition has represented at a merits hearing, 65 percent had a successful outcome. The Access to Counsel Initiative with IJC will close the representation gap for the remaining 200-220 immigrants who are unrepresented and detained in the county.
"Prince Georgians benefit when all our residents have the opportunity to thrive and civically engage in our communities," said Prince George's County Council Member Deni Taveras. "With the support of the Immigrant Justice Corps, the ISLA initiative will offer legal counsel and support to all Prince Georgians detained. The expansion in services will keep our communities' diverse tapestry intact and minimize the social and economic impact caused by family separation."
Founded in 2014, Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) identifies promising lawyers and advocates passionate about immigration, places them with organizations where they can make the greatest difference and supports them with training and expert insights as they directly assist immigrants in need.
To date, more than 200 IJC Fellows have provided representation in over 25,000 legal matters and assisted more than 70,000 low-income immigrants and their families with a success rate of 92 percent on cases completed. There are currently 82 Fellows serving in 11 states and 33 cities.
The Capital Area Immigrants' Rights (CAIR) Coalition strives to ensure equal justice for all immigrant adults and children at risk of detention and deportation in the Capital region area and beyond through direct legal representation, know your rights presentations, impact litigation, advocacy, and the enlistment and training of attorneys to defend immigrants.