New Fund Launched to Support Immigrants Facing Deportation
September 14, 2018
By Ana Gomez Salcido
A new national fund to support immigrants facing deportation was launched on Wednesday, September 12, by the Vera Institute of Justice, an independent non-profit national research and policy organization working with governments to build and improve justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities.
Activist and actor Alyssa Milano, who was joined with local leaders from the legal and immigrant advocacy communities to highlight the importance of the growing movement to provide legal services to immigrants facing deportation, announced the launch of the new SAFE Families Fund at a press conference held at San Diego’s Civic Center Plaza. The new fund will be used to expand programs, such as the Vera Institute of Justice’s Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Cities Network, that provides legal services and representation to immigrants facing deportation.
“In my fifteen years of advocacy around immigration, I have seen how a mother will do anything she can to keep her family safe, even if it means fleeing the only life she has ever known to face an administration that jeers at her arrival and seeks to detain and rapidly deport her without due process of law,” Milano said. “At a time when the most vulnerable are being targeted at our borders and in our towns and communities across the U.S., we should support efforts to uphold due process and a fair day in court for all. That’s why the SAFE Families Fund is so vital, and that’s why I’m partnering with Vera to ensure access to counsel for immigrants.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, Andrew Nietor, founder of Nietor Law; Monika Langarica, senior staff attorney at the American Bar Association Immigration Justice Project; Erika Pinheiro, policy and litigation director at Al Otro Lado; and Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, offered powerful examples of why the movement for legal services is so important.
Nietor pointed out that is 10 times more likely to succeed in a deportation proceeding, if the immigrant in the process has legal counsel.
Also speaking at the conference was Wendy, an abuse-survivor asylum seeker and a high school student, who is a client of Immigrant Defenders.
“I am here because I am a survivor and a fighter. I am here talking to you because I am lucky. I am lucky that I have a chance. I am lucky that I know that I have legal options to stop my deportation. I am lucky that I have a chance to be protected from the terrible things that happened to me in El Salvador. But I wouldn’t have known about any of these things if I didn’t have a lawyer,” said the 18 year-old asylum seeker. “I’m proud that I’m a quick learner. I learned a new language in a year. I get A’s in science, math, and English, but there’s no way I could have represented myself in immigration court. There’s no way I could have understood what was happening to me. There is no way I could have fought my case without a lawyer. It’s impossible. But now with my lawyer, I can fight. We fight for my safety and for my life.”
To learn more about the SAFE Families Fund and how to donate, people can visit www.vera.org/supportsafe.