Universal Representation Advocacy
Adult Representation Project
ImmDef is a member of the California Coalition for Universal Representation, a statewide network of organizations that advocates for access to counsel for all immigrants facing deportation.
ImmDef advocates with California elected officials to encourage the creation of a publicly-funded program to provide appointed counsel for indigent immigrants facing deportation. These advocacy efforts have grown following the 2016 presidential election as we expect federal government enforcement efforts to intensify. The time is now for California to show the rest of the nation who we are and what values we hold dear: inclusivity, due process, and justice for all.
Some recent successes of the coalition’s policy advocacy include the introduction of California Senate Bill 6 (D-Hueso) which would ensure all immigrants facing deportation in California have qualified immigration attorneys to represent them. This important bill is a huge step forward in the movement for universal representation and would be the largest commitment of any state government to date to protect immigrants’ due process rights.
Additionally, many California municipalities, including San Francisco, Santa Clara and Los Angeles, have recently advanced plans to fund universal representation locally.
ImmDef was an active advocate to create the Los Angeles Justice Fund, a collaborative effort that will combine funding from Los Angeles County, City and philanthropic sources to defend our immigrant communities from abuse in the immigration system. This program will be implemented by the California Community Foundation in 2017.
Since its inception, ImmDef has used a universal representation model in all its representation programs. This means that ImmDef does not screen its clients for eligibility for relief or other case factors before agreeing to represent them. It is a break with the traditional public interest model of screening clients and prioritizing cases by either likelihood of success or presence of sympathetic factors, and it demonstrates ImmDef's commitment to the idea that no immigrant, without exception, should go to court alone.
Though the method for receiving cases is different in our adult and child client programs, we accept referrals on a first-come, first-served basis for both each month, up to our capacity and contractual obligations. Because, we do not screen clients, less administrative time is spent on the entire intake process. That helps focus our energy on defending our clients. More importantly, this model helps reduce the number of times a traumatized client has to tell their story, and often, the first meeting is with the attorney who will handle the case, not with an intake screener.
The universal representation model requires creative and fearless lawyering. Our clients often come to us with truly challenging legal situations that may have no clear resolution. As we implement the model, the number of cases in which we force the government to meet its burdens of providing proper service and proving its allegations has grown exponentially.
Our team often pushes the boundaries of established asylum and state court Special Immigrant Juvenile law, and is prepared to aggressively appeal cases. ImmDef’s stellar attorneys work hard to ensure that all of our clients have access to a fair hearing and fervent advocacy.