Immigrant Rights Advocates Celebrate NYC Council Resolution Backing Right-to-Counsel in Immigration Proceedings

New York—Today, the New York City Council passed Resolution 556 calling on the New York State Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign the Access to Representation Act, a first-in-the-nation bill that establishes the right to legal counsel in immigration court proceedings. Members of the Campaign for Access, Representation, and Equity (CARE) for Immigrant Families steering committee reacted to the news: 


Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition:

“Today’s resolution in support of a right to counsel in immigration courts by the New York City Council is an indisputable signal to Albany. We cannot afford for the status quo to continue. New York has been a beacon of hope to immigrant families for generations, and we must carry that legacy by enacting the Access to Representation Act. It is a failure of our fundamental New York values for us to force immigrant families, including children, to represent themselves in court against deportation. Fair representation must be universal, not extended only to those who can afford attorneys. We thank the Council for their ongoing leadership and look forward to keeping up the good fight in Albany.” 


Shayna Kessler, Associate Director of Advocacy, Vera Institute of Justice’s Advancing Universal Representation initiative: 

"Successfully navigating the immigration legal system is a daunting challenge under any circumstance. Without legal assistance, immigrants risk detention, deportation to life-threatening situations, and permanent separation from their loved ones. We thank the City Council for overwhelmingly supporting sustainable immigration legal services and the Access to Representation Act. Today's resolution sends a strong message to Albany that universal legal representation must be a top priority in the new year.”


Camille Mackler, Executive Director, Immigrant ARC:

“Today’s passing of Resolution 556 by the New York City Council is a welcome development in our fight for the right to representation and underscores the importance of New Yorkers getting the right to legal help when facing deportation. It is simple––the data shows that people facing deportation are far more likely to remain with their loved ones if they have a legal advocate on their side. New York thrives when we keep families together, allow people to contribute to their communities, and provide immigrants the stability to flourish. Our immigration legal system is impossibly skewed to one side and providing legal representation is the best tool we have to uphold our basic principles of due process and to restore a measure of fairness to a fundamentally unjust system. Governor Hochul and legislative leaders must recognize this and take the next step this year by passing the first-in-the-nation Access to Representation Act (S.999/A.0170).”