Automatic deportation…

‘It’s Like an Automatic Deportation if You Don’t Have a Lawyer’

New York has had success with a project that provides pro bono lawyers for detainees. The Trump administration is undermining it.

By 

Mr. Sidahmed is a senior reporter at Documented, a nonprofit news site that covers immigration in the New York area.

ImageAmelia Marritz, left, and Ellen Pachnanda, lawyers with the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, in front of Eduardo Kobra’s Ellis Island mural, near the United States Immigration Court on Varick Street in Manhattan.
CreditCreditYana Paskova for The New York Times

First of two articles.

In February 2017, Carlos was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement shortly after he dropped one of his daughters at her school bus stop; the agents had been waiting there for him. He was locked in immigration detention in the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey for six weeks before he had his first hearing in immigration court.

Carlos, who wishes to be identified only by his first name, worked as a mechanic and held a green card, making him a legal permanent resident. In jail, he was confused, he missed his three daughters, and he had no idea what was going to happen to him next. He had been arrested so that he could be deported to his native Dominican Republic, having been convicted several years before for two offenses. One was a misdemeanor assault in 2013, for which he served five months in jail, and the other was attempted burglary in 2011, for which he served six months.

“In that month when I was waiting to see a judge, there was no information,” Carlos said. “It was just chaos.”

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