[JURIST] New York lawmakers have approved funding for a program to provide lawyers to indigent residents facing deportation hearings. The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project [Bronx Defenders backgrounder] was created last year but was only funded at $500,000. Wednesday’s vote by the New York City Council expands funding to $4.9 million [press release] to greatly expand the program. While defendants in the criminal justice system have the right to an attorney, there is no such right for individuals facing a complicated immigration legal system. This is the first program of its kind in the US [AP report]. Also this week, the New York Council approved a measure to provide identification cards [press release] to all city residents, including those in the country illegally.
In the absence of federal immigration reform, state governments have continued to enact various measures. Last week a Montana judge struck down [JURIST report] most of a voter-approved immigration law that required government officials to check the immigration status of anyone applying for state services. Earlier this month Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a law [JURIST report] allowing undocumented students to receive in-state tuition, joining 16 other states already allowing this. In March South Carolina announced that it would comply with a court order [JURIST report] preventing it from enforcing the “show me your papers” provision of SB 20 [text]. According to the US Department of Justice the number of deportations in the US has steadily been declining [JURIST report].