Legal Services in New York


Drawing on detailed surveys circulated to legal service providers throughout New York State, the No Safe Harbor report reveals the toll three years of anti-immigrant Federal policy has taken on legal service providers, the geographic and language barriers immigrant New Yorkers face in trying to access legal representation, and the problems caused by tight inconsistent funding streams.

Top Line Findings


Immigrants who obtain legal representation are much more likely to win release from detention and prevail in their deportation cases. Detained immigrants with legal representation are four times more likely to be released from detention, and 11 times more likely to file an application for relief from deportation than unrepresented individuals. And, when filed, their applications for relief are substantially more likely to succeed. Thirty-two percent of detained immigrants represented by counsel won their case, but only 3% of unrepresented detained immigrants were able to do so. Moreover, whereas 15% of non-detained unrepresented immigrants successfully argued for their ability to remain in the United States, that number jumps to 78% for non-detained immigrants who were able to obtain legal representation.


Geographic barriers present the single biggest obstacle to accessing legal services outside of New York City. Immigrant New Yorkers located outside of New York City are more likely to obtain legal representation if they are connected with a community-based organization (CBO) that can help facilitate their access to legal services. However, many CBOs that had previously received funding for outreach lost the opportunity to apply for funding renewals in FY2019.