NYC puts $4.9 million into public defender system for immigrants facing deportation; 1st in US

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New York City lawmakers are funding a program that will provide legal representation for all poor city residents who have been detained in the immigration system and are facing deportation.

Immigrant advocates say it's the first such program in the country.

Lawmakers approved $4.9 million for the upcoming fiscal year as part of the $75 billion budget passed early Thursday. The program covers eligible New York City residents appearing in immigration courts in the city or the New Jersey cities of Elizabeth and Newark.

Advocates for the program say immigration law is incredibly complex and those without lawyers almost never win their cases.

Unlike the criminal justice system, there is no guaranteed right to representation in the immigration system because it is a civil proceeding.