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State lawmakers advocate for legal representation of immigrants

In New York, state lawmakers and immigration advocates are pushing for legislation to provide immigrants with the right to legal counsel in immigration court proceedings, including deportation cases. This initiative, highlighted as a significant effort before the state Assembly and Senate vote on their budgets, aims to ensure that immigrants, especially recent arrivals, can swiftly apply for work authorization.

The proposed Access to Representation Act, advocated at a rally at the state Capitol, seeks to address the complex and often confusing legal challenges immigrants face, likening their situation to criminal cases despite being technically civil matters. Aliou Faye, an immigrant who attended the rally, emphasized the importance of representation and the difficulty of navigating the legal system, particularly for those facing language barriers.

The legislation, which goes beyond the current budget proposals, asks for $150 million to cover legal and additional support services for immigrants. Despite criticism from Assembly Republicans about prioritizing migrants over New Yorkers, Assembly sponsor Catalina Cruz argues that the state’s wealth can support this initiative, aiming for a gradual increase in funding to exceed $300 million over five years for comprehensive representation and support.