Philadelphia and Vera’s SAFE Network Support Immigrants
Recently, the city of Philadelphia announced a partnership with the Vera Institute of Justice’s Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Network to protect immigrants facing deportation. Philadelphia joins other communities across the country working with SAFE to provide government-funded legal counsel or universal representation for immigrants at-risk of long-term detention and deportation. Without universal representation, immigrant advocates say foreign-born individuals facing deportation lose access to the rights they are afforded under United States law.
Universal Representation for Priority Immigration Cases
As part of a one-year pilot program, Vera’s SAFE Network is providing pro bono legal support in Philadelphia on a first-come, first-serve basis for immigrants facing deportation who are unable to afford counsel. At a cost of $100,000, Vera and the city are funding the cost of two pro bono Philadelphia immigration attorneys set to take on around 30 clients each.
Mayor Jim Kenney is a big supporter of Vera’s SAFE Network services, saying the new deportation defense fits in with other pro-immigrant policies they embrace and continue to advance. The Philadelphia immigration attorneys working for the city pro bono will focus on the most challenging cases, advocating for individuals already detained by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.) The immigration attorneys hired as part of the SAFE pilot program are in addition to Philadelphia immigration attorneys already offering representation at a reduced cost to low-income clients.
The Legal Process in Detention Facilities
Detained immigrants must conduct their legal business inside detention facilities across the state of Pennsylvania. Hearings happen at the York County Prison, which as of May 2019 had a backlog of more than 530 cases. Currently, an average of one in five detained immigrants receives legal assistance. Without representation, they are less likely to win their cases.
Threat of ICE Raids
After the President recently announced plans to conduct a new wave of ICE raids, undocumented immigrants across Pennsylvania and the nation are living with the ongoing threat of detention and removal. While the raids occurred on a much smaller scale than the President promised, immigrant men, women, and children live in limbo with the ever-present fear of raids looming over their daily lives. Philadelphia’s partnership with Vera’s SAFE Network offers a glimpse of hope to families who cannot afford or do not have access to representation to fight deportation.
Philadelphia Immigration Attorneys at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Represent Clients Facing Removal
If you have an immigration concern, the Philadelphia immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. can help. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at 215-496-0690 or complete an online contact form today. Located in Philadelphia, we represent clients in and around the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.