The Murphy Administration has allocated $2.1 million to provide legal representation to those facing immigration issues, making good on its promise made in a budget initiative in July.
Edison-based legal services nonprofit Legal Services of New Jersey will be allocated $925,000 as the principal contractor. Newark-based nonprofit American Friends Service Committee will be allocated $925,000 for its direct representation services, and the law clinics at Rutgers University and Seton Hall University will each get $125,000 for representation services.
“Families who came to New Jersey for a better life do not deserve to be torn apart by the federal government’s cruel and discriminatory policies,” said Gov. Phil Murphy in a statement. “Deportation is one of the harshest consequences an individual can face under U.S. law, yet most immigrants do not have the right to appointed counsel and many cannot afford an attorney. This funding will help provide critical legal representation to low-income residents who are detained and facing deportation in New Jersey and have no one to defend their rights."
New Jersey’s immigrant-led households paid an estimated $6.5 billion in state and local taxes in 2014 and possessed $54.6 billion in spending power, according to the American Immigration Council.
Additionally, undocumented immigrants comprised 7.9 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014 and paid an estimated $587.4 million in state and local taxes, which would rise to $661.1 million if they received legal status.
“A publicly funded legal representation program for immigrant detainees is critical to protect the due process rights of long-time New Jersey residents with deep ties to our communities and families who would be devastated by their detention and deportation, as well as immigrants who have fled persecution and violence in their home countries,” said Nicole Polley Miller, AFSC legal services director, in a statement.