Full and fair access to immigration legal services is vital to ensure justice for asylum seekers and other migrants seeking protection in the immigration courts or immigration status before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Legal representation is also essential to the effective functioning of the immigration court system, improving outcomes and appearances at all levels—an essential element for a body that is facing more than 2 million pending cases. Resolution of affirmative applications before USCIS and immigration court cases takes years, and the waiting times continue to grow. For poor and low-income immigrants, there is an average of only one legal representative for 1,413 unauthorized persons in the United States and this number varies greatly by state. Panelists discuss the current state of immigration legal services and the growing need for representation. They address the importance of investment in universal representation and the use of innovation and technology to ensure access to justice for those seeking status and protection in the United States. Legal services strengthen the integrity of the institutions which implement U.S. immigration laws and uphold due process and international law principles.
- Anna Marie Gallagher, Executive Director, CLINIC
- Rodrigo Camarena, Director, Justicia Lab
- Annie Chen, Initiative Director, Advancing Universal Representation, Vera Institute
- Emmett Soper, Counsel to the Director, Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice
- Wendy Young, President, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)