Long Island Wins: Long Islanders Unite to Call for the Passage of Immigration Reform

Long Islanders Unite to Call for the Passage of Immigration Reform

by Kevin Fung - Online Editor [Original article here]

Ahead of the Senate’s historic vote on Thursday on comprehensive immigration reform, Long Island Wins along with allies, community leaders and immigrants gathered in Brentwood for a press conference calling on our elected officials to pass immigration reform.

“History is happening now,” said Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, executive director of Long Island Wins. “Today’s Senate vote is an important step in moving millions of immigrants into a responsible system. That’s good news for Long Island and good news for America.”

“It’s amazing that after a 15 year struggle, we’re finally seeing the Senate pass comprehensive immigration reform,” said Patrick Young, program director at CARECEN and Long Island Wins contributor. “This bill will put 100,000 immigrants here on Long Island on the path to citizenship.”

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill by Thursday afternoon. It’s largely expected that the bill will pass the Senate before moving to the conservative-leaning House of Representatives, where it will face a tough task ahead.

It’s likely that the House will try to make immigration reform much more conservative and much more difficult, possibly affecting the earned path to citizenship for our nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Long Island Wins and our allies will be working hard to make sure the final bill is the best it can be.

“This bill has to be just and fair and it has to be commonsense,” Slutsky said.

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News 12: Long Islanders rally for immigration reform in Brentwood

Long Islanders rally for immigration reform in Brentwood

Immigration groups say there are about 100,000 undocumented immigrants living on Long Island. (6/27/13) [Original article here]

BRENTWOOD -  Long Islanders rallied in Brentwood for immigration reform.

Immigration and labor groups urged lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The Senate today voted 68-32 to pass the bill and sent the measure to the House.

Immigration groups say there are about 100,000 undocumented immigrants living on Long Island.

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Noticia: Long Island apoya reforma migratoria

Long Island apoya reforma migratoria

De acuerdo a una encuesta reciente, un 80% de votantes registrados apoyan la reforma y un camino a la ciudadanía
Eliana López [Artículo original aquí]

Una nueva encuesta realizada por la firma nacional Harstad Strategic Research, INC. dada a conocer la semana pasada, reveló que el 80% de residentes de Long Island están de acuerdo con una reforma migratoria, algo que marca un cambio positivo en una región conocida en el pasado por su retórica antiinmigrante y su segregación.

El contundente apoyo a un proyecto de ley que fortalezca la frontera, penalice a los empleadores que contraten a inmigrantes indocumentados, ofrezca un camino a la legalización a aquellos inmigrantes indocumentados que aprendan inglés y paguen impuestos, y ofrezca visas de trabajo a trabajadores altamente calificados y a trabajadores agrarios, sorprendió al congresista Tim Bishop, quien se refirió a la encuesta como “útil y esclarecedora”.

“Aunque sabía que más del 50% de residentes de Long Island apoyaban la reforma, me sorprendí con ese notable 80% de apoyo”, indicó Bishop en una conferencia telefónica, “esto demuestra que ha crecido la aceptación respecto a cómo se debe resolver esta complicada problemática que no tiene una solución fácil”.

Además de indagar sobre el apoyo al proyecto de reforma migratoria, otros resultados de la encuesta dejaron entrever la opinión que los residentes de la isla tienen sobre los inmigrantes indocumentados.

De acuerdo a la encuesta, un 47% piensa que la inmigración ilegal ha aumentado en Long Island. Un 39% de los encuestados indicó que Long Island se ha vuelto un peor lugar para vivir con la llegada de los inmigrantes indocumentados, mientras que un 39% piensa que su llegada no ha afectado para bien o para mal la vida en Long Island. Un 60% de los encuestados cree que los inmigrantes llegaron a Long Island para trabajar y ofrecer una mejor calidad de vida a sus familias.

La encuesta se realizó a una muestra representativa de votantes registrados, con un margen de error del 3.6% y de acuerdo a representantes de Harstad, fue realizada de manera imparcial.

Para representantes de organizaciones a favor de una reforma migratoria, los resultados de esta encuesta dejan entrever que los residentes de la isla son conscientes de la importancia de solucionar un sistema que ha estado roto por mucho tiempo. 

“Long Island quiere soluciones prácticas de sus oficiales electos, no la vacía retórica de la auto deportación”, indicó Pat Young, Director de Programas del Central American Refugee Center, CARECEN.

Daniel Altschuler, coordinador de la Mesa Cívica de Long Island, aseguró por su parte que los resultados de la encuesta ofrecen una oportunidad para que los congresistas de Long Island apoyen el proyecto. “Votar por este proyecto ofrece una rara oportunidad a los representantes del Congreso -aprobar una reforma significativa que mejore la vida de las personas y hacerlo con un gran apoyo del público”. 

Inmigrantes como Joan Sanjuan, se mostraron complacidos. “Estoy contento de ver los resultados”, indicó Sanjuan, quien llegó a los Estados Unidos en 1998. “Mis sueños se han detenido por mi status migratorio. Creo que este es un gran paso hacia la dirección correcta”.

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Public News Service: Major “Support” for Immigration Reform: Includes Same-Sex Couples

Major “Support” for Immigration Reform: Includes Same-Sex Couples

June 13, 2013 [Original article here]

NEW YORK CITY - Just one day after the United States Senate took a critical vote to keep the immigration reform debate moving forward, a new poll has found overwhelming local support for a comprehensive overhaul. The new poll leaves little doubt on Long Island: It found that four out of five voters want to see a comprehensive reform plan passed that includes a path to citizenship.

Carlos Reyes, a member of Make the Road New York, said he has an idea why public opinion is shifting.

"They see that we are in Long Island - 100,000 immigrants - and we are living in the shadows, and they know we are hard workers."

Recently, Long Island's immigrant population topped 400,000. According to recent estimates, about 100,000 are undocumented. Congressman Tim Bishop joined the wide-ranging collection of agriculture, labor, church and immigrant groups that released the poll results on Wednesday.

Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group Long Island Wins, noted that these local voters believe immigration reform should be very inclusive.

"Long Islanders also strongly support including same-sex couples in comprehensive immigration reform, with over 70 percent saying that they would support a provision to guarantee same-sex couples the right to seek citizenship for their partners," Slutsky said.

If there was a major surprise in the poll, Slutsky added, it is probably the fact the voters in Suffolk County were almost as strong in their support for providing a path to citizenship as their neighbors in Nassau County.

"Remarkably, strong support for comprehensive immigration is consistent across all demographics and districts - including Suffolk County, which had previously included anti-immigrant politics and hate crimes," she said.

The poll was conducted by national pollster Harstad Research and included more than 700 Long Island voters.

The full poll results are available at www.longislandwins.com.

 Copyright © 2013 Public News Service

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Long Island Press: Long Island Immigration Reform Proponents Encouraged

Long Island Immigration Reform Proponents Encouraged

By Carly Rome on June 12, 2013 [Original article here]

Long Island’s proponents of the immigration reform bill being debated in the U.S. Senate hailed Wednesday the results of a new poll showing that 80 percent of LI voters support the legislation.

Immigration advocates, union leaders, farmers and a Congressional lawmaker voiced their support for the bill at a news conference following the release of the new poll conducted by Harstad Research, a national public opinion research firm.

“The era of attacking immigrants for political gain is long over,” declared Maryann Slutsky, executive director for Long Island Wins, an organization that campaigns for immigrant solutions. She suggested the poll is a wake-up call to LI’s lawmakers.

The poll sampled 755 registered LI voters within a broad range of age, gender and political affiliation, according to Harstad Research. Sixty percent of those polled feel that most immigrants intend to work hard and provide for their families, while 31 percent believe that immigrants come to the US to take advantage of the system.

The bill would create a path for citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, initiate stronger border enforcement and encourage business to import both high skilled and low skilled immigrant workers.

Nationwide, 68 percent of voters said that the government should provide illegal immigrants with a way to earn citizenship, according to a poll conducted in April by Belden Russonello Strategists, a Washington, D.C.-based research group.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) touted the bill’s potential to improve the nation’s economic standing, national security and worker’s rights, referring to it as a “reasonable and enforceable means of trying to improve the system.” He added that he’s pleased with his constituents’ support for immigration reform.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), the lone Republican among LI’s Congressional delegation, recently expressed support for the bill—as long as it includes more border security—at a Brentwood town hall meeting organized by the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, the same group that called the news conference.

Shirley Abdebol, vice president of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, stressed that the current policy “will continue to drive down wages for all workers.” Abdebol views the proposed reform as a way to inject more money into the economy through “building worker power” and encouraging entrepreneurialism.

The Long Island Farm Bureau, which has grappled with the issue of migrant workers for decades, also expressed support for the legislation.

Among the points of contention in the current debate is whether to include provisions such as citizenship for partners in same-sex couples. Of those polled, 71 percent of voters favored the provision while 22 percent were opposed.

While addressing that issue, Bishop cautioned that voters should “not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Among the opponents to the bill are Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who referred to the bill as “flawed legislation” and a “monstrosity” on the U.S. Senate floor Tuesday.

“You bring in more labor, the price of labor falls,” Sessions said, arguing that a sudden surge of legal workers will suppress wages and limit job availability.

The bill is expected to be debated over the next few weeks, with backers hoping it will be passed by July 4.

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America's Voice: Long Island Poll: 8 out of 10 Long Islanders Support Immigration Reform

LONG ISLAND POLL: 8 OUT OF 10 LONG ISLANDERS SUPPORT IMMIGRATION REFORM

by Van Le on 06/12/2013 at 4:49pm [Original article here]

Long Island has come a long way since the days of Steve Levy.

A new poll released today by Harstad Strategic Research found that the vast majority (eight out of 10) Long Islanders “somewhat” or “strongly” favor immigration reform with a path to citizenship.  The survey spoke to 755 registered voters in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and was conducted between May 28 and June 2.

As Daniel Altshuler, of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table–an alliance of advocacy groups that were among organizations that commissioned the study—said:

Across all of Long Island, irrespective of demographics or congressional districts, there is just tremendous support for a fair and balanced approach to fixing the immigration system.  [The poll shows immigration] is one of these infrequent marriages between good policy and good politics.

Not too long ago, Long Island and Suffolk County were known in the immigration world for former County Executive Steve Levy, one of the most anti-immigrant public officials in New York state.  Duriing his tenure, immigrants in Suffolk County were routinely beaten, pelted with rocks, and spit at.  High school students casually talked about “beaner jumping,” and attacks on immigrants were treated as a common pastime.  Levy refused to discourage the rash of hate crimes—when Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death by seven high school students, Levy dismissed the murder as a “one-day story.”

In recent years, Long Island—thanks to the effort of groups like Make the Road New York and the Long Island Civic Engagement Table—has stepped away from this ugly history, voting in a new county executive rather than Levy’s heir apparent, and announcing an executive order granting equal access to non-English speakers.  The poll released today is further evidence of a nationwide trend finding greater support for immigration reform than ever.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) said the poll results may reflect a change of tone in the debate. “The passion associated with this issue has ebbed considerably,” he told Newsday.

Besides the “growing acceptance” of immigrants’ contributions, Bishop said, “people feel that this is a problem that has festered for far too long.”

This poll should also catch the attention of Rep. Peter King (R), who also represents part of Long Island. Last week, along with most other members of the GOP House caucus, King voted for Rep. Steve King’s amendment to deport DREAMers.  Peter King would be wise to ditch the ugliness of that other Rep. King  and side with his constituents by supporting real immigration reform.

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Public News Service: New NY Data: A “Tipping Point” in Senate Immigration Debate?

New NY Data: A “Tipping Point” in Senate Immigration Debate?

June 12, 2013 [Original article here]

NEW YORK - A new poll is expected to show major local support for comprehensive immigration reform. The full numbers are being released today, and local advocates say they will paint a big picture that's clear.

Daniel Altschuler, coordinator for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, said he can't comment on the precise numbers until the survey is released, but that the headline is already written and there's overwhelming support for immigration reform across Long Island.

"This is a critical moment for immigration reform, as it is being debated on the full floor of the Senate," he said. "We are excited to be releasing data demonstrating strong public support for comprehensive reform legislation, including a path to citizenship."

A wide-ranging group of immigration-reform supporters is releasing the poll results, including farming groups, labor unions, church and political leaders as well as immigrant organizations.

Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, executive director of Long Island Wins, said her immigrants' advocacy group has been getting a strong read on what locals are thinking through a variety of outreach efforts, including Facebook, Twitter and other social media. They sensed a major shift in favor of reforming what she said most people believe to be a broken immigration system.

"We felt that the time was right to really test the waters on how they were feeling about immigration reform," she said, "because we sensed that the tide was turning - and we wanted to be able to support that with data."

Slutsky said the poll also will show significant Long Island support for including same-sex couples in immigration-reform efforts.

 Copyright © 2013 Public News Service

       

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The Daily News: Pete King would back citizenship "path," but only with security stricter than Senate bill

Pete King would back citizenship "path," but only with security stricter than Senate bill

By Joseph Straw [Original article here]

Rep Pete King (R-N.Y.) says he'd back a “path” to citizenship for the country’s undocumented immigrants, but only with stronger security provisions than in pending Senate legislation.

At a May 30 constituent forum in Brentwood, first reported on by sponsor and immigration advocacy group Long Island Wins, King offered this comment heard in an event video posted online:

“As far as if we do have security -- and I feel that it's never going to be 100 percent -- but as close to full security as possible for the future, then I believe we should legalize those that are here,” King said. “If you're here legally, there should be a path to citizenship and so to that extent we're on the same page.”

King clarified the comment Tuesday to the Daily News, specifically the “here legally” qualifier, stating that he backs a path for country’s roughly 11 million otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants.

The former House Homeland Security Committee Chairman would not, however, back pending Senate legislation that would start the clock on a 13-year “path” provided only that the Department of Homeland Security draft a plan for improved border security.

“We should have legislation that has solid security,” King said.

The Senate bill requires other “triggers” later along the path, including full verification of visa-holder exits at air and sea ports and universal employer verification of workers’ legal immigration status.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) a member of the “Gang of 8” senators including Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), lobbied House conservatives Wednesday to support reform with stronger security provisions.

Rubio, who has conceded that the bill couldn’t pass the Republican-led House as is, has suggested legislating border security measures rather than letting DHS conceive them.

King’s committee last month passed a bipartisan standalone bill that would give DHS six months to draft a new border security plan, two years to establish control of “high traffic” areas and five years to control the whole border, relying heavily on technology.

The House’s own “Gang of 8” has yet to introduce its own comprehensive immigration bill, and King predicted last week that when and if the Senate moves a bill, “the process will pretty much start over again” in the House.

Floor debate on the Senate bill is expected to begin next week and Schumer said he hopes for passage by July 4. 

King said he favors the “path” strategy “rather than have 11 million people remain in a vacuum.”

That places King in agreement with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) but at odds with more conservative members like Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) who opposes the “path” and chairs the House

Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for reporting out immigration legislation.

Javier Valdes, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, which cosponsored the Brentwood forum, said that the balance King described between security and legalization is feasible.

“We think that there is a path forward where we can achieve both goals, and we look forward to doing that,” Valdes said.

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Noticia: Peter King participa en foro organizado por grupos minoritarios

Peter King participa en foro organizado por grupos minoritarios

El congresista habló sobre varios temas entre los que estuvo la reforma migratoria
Eliana López [Artículo original aquí]

El congresista Peter King, famoso por sus posiciones sobre inmigración y seguridad nacional, participó en un foro comunitario el pasado jueves en la Biblioteca Pública de Brentwood, en el que residentes de su distrito tuvieron la oportunidad de preguntarle su opinión sobre diversos temas entre los que estuvo su posición sobre la reforma migratoria. 

El encuentro organizado por la NAACP de Islip y la Mesa Cívica de Long Island, y en el que participaron varias organizaciones locales, marca el inicio del diálogo entre King y sus nuevos constituyentes, después de que el distrito que representa fuera modificado considerablemente el año pasado durante el proceso de redistribución distrital y al que ahora pertenecen zonas con una alta concentración de hispanos, como Brentwood, Bay Shore y Central Islip.

King se mostró abierto al diálogo y reconoció ante un auditorio lleno que aunque muchos de los asistentes no votaron por él y no están de acuerdo con sus posturas, como su representante ante el Congreso, debe escucharlos y trabajar con ellos. “Se que muchas personas aquí no votaron por mi o no me apoyan, pero eso no importa. He trabajado con muchas personas sin que esto importe”, aseguró.

Durante el encuentro, King respondió preguntas sobre la economía, la crisis inmobiliaria, asuntos laborales y el control de armas, pero el momento más controversial ocurrió cuando se le preguntó sobre su relación con la comunidad musulmana, y sobre las audiencias que patrocinó en el comité de seguridad nacional en el congreso.

King indicó que no cree que las audiencias sobre la radicalización de algunos musulmanes hayan creado sentimientos de odio contra esa comunidad, y aseguró que no se puede bajar la guardia frente a este grupo, ya que las amenazas terroristas provienen en su mayoría de grupos radicales musulmanes. El congresista afirmó que las puertas de su oficina están abiertas para cualquier miembro de esta comunidad que desee hablar con él.

Robert Feliciano, miembro de la junta escolar de Brentwood y asistente al evento, aseguró que con sus posturas, King ha ofendido a la comunidad musulmana. “El congresista se encuentra en una posición bien difícil. [Él] ha tenido ciertas posiciones públicamente que realmente han ofendido a ciertas comunidades. Tenemos una comunidad bastante grande de musulmanes y ellos se sienten completamente ofendidos y de por si tienen el derecho de sentirse así”.


Reforma migratoria

Esta fue la primera vez que el congresista habló con sus nuevos constituyentes acerca de su postura sobre la reforma migratoria que está siendo debatida en el Congreso y aseguró que estaría dispuesto a apoyar el proyecto a cambio de que se implementen medidas que garanticen que en el futuro no habrán millones de indocumentados, como sucede actualmente. King afirmó que los inmigrantes “son los mejores americanos”, siempre y cuando tengan documentos, ya que la inmigración irregular pone en riesgo la seguridad nacional al no saber con certeza quiénes están en el país.

El congresista aseguró que siempre y cuando los inmigrantes indocumentados se pongan “al final de la fila”, se fortalezca la frontera y se castigue a aquellas personas que se quedan en el país más tiempo del permitido por sus visas, está de acuerdo en que haya un camino a la legalización para los inmigrantes indocumentados. 

King afirmó a Noticia que considera “posible” la aprobación de la reforma antes de finalizar el año. “Creo que es muy posible, es decir ambos partidos lo quieren por diferentes razones así que hay un incentivo para hacerlo, así que yo diría que es muy posible; si es probable o no, solo el tiempo lo dirá”.

Para Daniel Altschuler, coordinador de la Mesa Cívica de Long Island, la disposición de King para hablar sobre la reforma migratoria constituye “un paso importante”, al que su organización planea darle seguimiento. “Este es un primer paso con el congresista, esperamos ahora tener la posibilidad de juntarnos directamente con él para poder hablar sobre el tema y explicar nuestra posición y ojalá seguir la lucha por una reforma migratoria justa para que él y los demás congresistas de Long Island apoyen una reforma integral”.

Karina Claudio, organizadora comunitaria de Se Hace Camino Nueva York, indicó que la insistencia del congresista en añadir garantías al proyecto de reforma migratoria para asegurar la frontera sobran, ya que el actual proyecto cuenta con un importante componente de seguridad fronteriza. “Ya nuestra frontera está más que asegurada, además esta propuesta de ley adiciona recursos para eso, así que creo que ese argumento es bastante nulo en este momento”, indicó, “creo que él [King] se tiene que enfocar en lo que la comunidad estaba diciendo, que es mantener a nuestras familias unidas y dar un paso a la ciudadanía a todo el mundo”.

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Fox News Latino: Detained Immigrants Have a Right to Counsel

Detained Immigrants Have a Right to Counsel

By Lorelei Salas, Patrick Young
Published June 05, 2013 | Fox News Latino [Original article here]

The legislative battle over comprehensive immigration reform is in full swing, with full Senate debate on proposed legislation set to begin next week. But one issue is getting too little attention in this debate: the need for counsel for thousands of immigrants facing deportation every day.

The proposed immigration overhaul would bring a long-overdue path to citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants. But it also promises to further ramp up immigration enforcement, meaning that many immigrants would still have to contend with possible deportation.

In a nation that prides itself on equal access to justice, this raises the question: who is advocating for immigrants in their interactions with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement?  In too many cases, the answer is: no one.

The last decade has brought our country’s largest ever immigration enforcement build-up, resulting in annual enforcement expenditures exceeding spending on federal criminal law enforcement and over one million deportations during President Obama’s tenure. 

Today, thousands of immigrants, both undocumented and those with permanent legal status, and even some citizens, languish in detention centers without any hope for adequate legal representation. They are mothers, sons, grandparents, and mentally disabled individuals. 

Most detainees are non-criminals who were caught by a system that has failed to pursue high-risk offenders and instead has zeroed in on your neighbors next door, who pose no security risk and face non-criminal charges.

Take the case of Emilio (a pseudonym to respect confidentiality), a Honduran immigrant who arrived here at age 18, met his wife, and, raised three US-citizen children. Emilio supported his family, paid his taxes, and never committed any crimes. Yet, in 2009, immigration officials arrested Emilio on a train in upstate New York. He later found himself ordered deported when he was not in court. 

In early 2012, ICE agents raided Emilio’s Brooklyn home and arrested him, transporting him to detention in New Jersey, where he faced harrowing conditions. To make matters worse, Emilio’s youngest daughter needed surgery, and Emilio could not be with her.

Emilio’s wife sought help from one of our organizations, Make the Road New York, and, with legal intervention, Emilio was eventually released from detention. His case was reopened to allow him to pursue a green card based on his marriage. Emilio managed to get support, but most immigrants in Emilio’s position never find this kind of critical help.

Our American criminal justice system prides itself in ensuring the presumption of innocence, but thousands of indigent individuals are nevertheless incarcerated in jails far from their loved ones, waiting endlessly to be tried in immigration courts and eventually deported, even though they have had no access to legal counsel. Often, those incarcerated waive their rights and choose voluntary self-deportation rather than continue to waste away in jail.

Like Emilio, many immigrants ensnared in our detention system actually have some form of eligibility for relief from deportation. But, without an attorney who can navigate the complicated web of immigration laws, they will be uprooted from their homes and sent back to countries where they have no ties. 

The relatively small number of non-profit legal services organizations that provide representation in deportation and removal proceedings cannot meet the demand for services and face tremendous obstacles accessing their clients with the limited detention center schedules for visitation. These organizations have limited funding streams that are vulnerable to private funders’ goodwill, and few have the capacity to have staff travel to distant detention centers.

As negotiations for comprehensive immigration reform go forward, we have an opportunity to correct the deficiencies that plague our immigration enforcement machinery. The proposed bill in the Senate takes a step forward by requiring free counsel for unaccompanied minors, the mentally ill, and other vulnerable people.

But it should go further. A humane immigration bill must ensure free legal representation for all indigent individuals facing deportation proceedings. Non-citizens already have a right to counsel in criminal proceedings, even when it means that they would only be subject to a couple of days in prison. In contrast, we deprive the same non-citizens of their liberty for months on end because of our broken immigration laws.

Public interest lawyers and academics have for several years pondered solutions to increasing incarceration rates, and at least one New York Federal Judge is putting forward a proposal for networks of immigration legal services providers who can represent detainees at no cost. 

But our federal government still has an obligation to provide a free lawyer to those incarcerated under its watch who cannot pay for legal representation. That is the least we can do in a country built by immigrants and committed to justice for all.

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