Under our nation’s immigration laws, individuals in deportation proceedings do not have a right to government-funded counsel. This means that, despite the dire consequences of deportation, tens of thousands of people represent themselves pro se (on their own) in immigration court each year.

In December 2020, the Maryland legislature passed the Dignity Not Detention Act, which ends ICE contracts with counties and close immigration detention centers by October 2022. Despite this significant victory for Maryland families, ICE will continue to detain Maryland residents in jails and prisons across the country and transfer some Marylanders currently detained here to other states in the coming months. Ensuring that immigrants have access to lawyers is crucial, now more than ever.

Despite recent decreases in detention due to the pandemic, based on pre-COVID data we estimate that approximately 530 Maryland residents will be held in immigration detention and forced to represent themselves pro se in deportation proceedings every year. This violates the fundamental principle of due process, harms immigrant communities, and damages local economies.

[HB114/SB129] - Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings creates a legal representation program for detained Marylanders facing deportation.

Provide low-income Marylanders in immigration detention access to state-funded representation

in their deportation proceedings, ensuring that they get due process and increasing the chances they can remain in Maryland with their families.

Ensure that immigrants and their families understand their rights and are supported in a holistic way

by designating community groups to conduct outreach and education with communities impacted by immigration detention (know your rights training, receiving referrals to support services, etc.)

Assigns coordination the funding of legal services to a trusted organization

the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, a legislatively created, non-profit organization that has four decades of experience funding legal services.

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