NEW YORK — Immigrants and a coalition of organizations on Thursday demanded that New York Governor Kathy Hochul approve the Representation Access Act (ARA) in the final state budget being drafted. being considered by the legislature to include the right to counsel for those facing deportation, which, if approved, would be a first for the country.

The coalition of organizations recalled at a press conference that state lawmakers last week confirmed their commitment to allocate $120 million in the proposed budget, most of it to fund legal services, and called on them to approve the bill.

An immigrant who is not in a detention center and who has a lawyer has a 60% chance of winning his case compared to 17% for those who do not have legal assistance, according to 2018 data cited on his page. by the famous Instituto Vera, which fights nationally to transform the penal and immigration system and which supports the approval of the ARA.

Those who focused on today’s event warned that this money would not be available if the bill was not included in the final budget and reminded that immigrants, when they have no cannot afford a lawyer, are forced to represent themselves in immigration court, which puts them at a disadvantage compared to government lawyers.

“Hochul, listen, we’re in the fight” shouted immigrants during a protest outside the governor’s office in Manhattan, who were unstoppable by the persistent rain that was falling at the time.

Immigrants, mostly Latinos, carried signs with messages such as “New Yorkers need access to (legal) representation” or “Keep my family together, skip the ARA”.

One of them was Peruvian Lina Ochoa, ex-policewoman and mother of two, who recounted the nightmare they experienced when they tried to hire a lawyer for the political asylum procedure that they were looking to hire, after having settled in New York for a year. There is.

“They asked for $10,000 for each but since we are a family, they left us $8,000 for the final price, which we couldn’t pay,” he told EFE. They went to an NGO but because they had too many cases they couldn’t help them. Finally, they were put in contact with another group who eventually provided free help and helped them obtain asylum.

Lawyer Alexandra Rizio, of the organization Safe Passage Project, represents unaccompanied children who have arrived in this country and among them have had babies up to four months old, whom the government has placed in deportation proceedings.

“More and more children need our help, and their cases are taking longer and longer due to court and visa backlogs,” he said.

Hochul sent the legislature last month a $227 billion budget proposal that is being negotiated in the legislature and must be approved by April 1, and now pro-immigrant groups are pushing for the ‘ARA does not stay out

As of September 2022, there were 180,000 cases awaiting appointment in immigration court in New York, and nearly two million nationwide.

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