New York State Bar Association President Claire P. Gutekunst issued the following statement about the public-private immigration legal defense project outlined in Governor Cuomo’s State of the State message:
“Too many immigrants face immigration proceedings without legal representation. They face high stakes, including possible detention and deportation.
“The New York State Bar Association has long called for providing immigrants—who cannot afford a lawyer—with legal counsel in certain immigration proceedings. Our members have represented indigent immigrants on a pro bono basis. We also have sponsored continuing legal education programs to train lawyers about the complexities of immigration law.
“The goal of the newly announced public-private immigration defense project is to ensure all New Yorkers have access to legal representation and due process, regardless of their citizenship status. We look forward to participating in Governor Cuomo’s initiative.
“Building upon our prior work, New York State Bar Association will continue to recruit attorneys to represent immigrants on a pro bono basis as well as to provide appropriate training to volunteer attorneys.”
In 2012, the New York State Bar Association approved a report of its Special Committee on Immigration Representation. The report found that individuals subjected to immigration removal proceedings often cannot afford to retain adequate legal representation, do not know how to obtain it or are ill-equipped to represent themselves. It also cited a “dire” shortage of attorneys qualified in immigration issues. Link to report: www.nysba.org/immigrationreport.
The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
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