FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Houston Leads Coalition Celebrates $2M Immigration Legal Services Fund for Low-income Harris County Residents
HOUSTON, TX— The Harris County Commissioners Court voted today to allocate $2 million dollars to the immigrant legal services fund, which will help ensure that Harris County residents who face deportation have legal representation in immigration proceedings. The Commissioners Court also allocated an additional $500,000 to fund immigration legal services for survivors of crime.
Immigrant rights advocates had urged Harris County Commissioners to allocate a sufficient amount to help meet the growing need for legal representation in deportation proceedings in Harris County, particularly among low-income residents. This $2.5 million allocation to fund immigration legal services is the largest in Texas and on par with funds for large cities nationally.
A recently released HILSC report, Communities Torn Apart: The Impact of Detention and Deportation in Houston, confirms the dire need for immigration legal services for residents facing deportation in Harris County. In Houston, 69% percent of people in detention facing deportation do not have a lawyer. People with a lawyer are more than 10 ½ times more likely to successfully fight deportation than those without fair representation. Harris County is home to 1.2 million immigrants, including 412,000 undocumented individuals, and the county has the highest number of ICE arrests in the nation.
“Harris County today proved it cares about all families,” said Maria Breceda, a Harris County resident whose son was deported two years ago. “No family should experience what my family did. Yet in Harris County, one of the top counties in the nation in the number of deportations, too many families have been torn apart by deportation. This fund will go a long way to helping families fight against unjust deportation attempts that without adequate representation they are likely to lose. This money will make justice accessible to more people.”
Anita Gupta, Immigrant Legal Resource Center:
“Immigrant rights advocates and community members directly impacted by the immigration system understand the importance of legal representation when fighting unfair deportation policies, particularly in Harris County, which has among the highest rates of federal immigration enforcement in the country. This fund will help low-income Harris County residents fight deportation by increasing access to legal counsel.”
Angelica Razo, Mi Familia Vota:
“The Immigrant Legal Services Fund is the culmination of two years of hard work from immigrant community members, advocates, and allies. This $2 million fund represents a commitment by the Commissioners Court to immigrant communities, due process, and keeping families together. We applaud Judge Lina Hidalgo for working with impacted community members and advocates to ensure there was community input in the process.”
Andrea Guttin, Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative:
“HILSC applauds the Harris County Commissioners for prioritizing due process through a $2 million immigration legal services fund. Houston is the most diverse city in the country, yet it remains a hotspot for deportations with 6,612 Houston residents deported in one year alone. Access to free legal representation makes it ten and half times more likely that someone could win their case and be able to remain here with their family.”
CONTACT: Maira Sheikh, HILSC Communications Director, maira [at] houstonimmigration.org ()