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Improving Immigrant Access to Justice: Innovative Approaches

On May 14, 2014, Roosevelt House hosted an event that looked  into the state of immigrant justice in America. Mirela Iverac of WNYC moderated a panel that consisted of Justice Robert KatzmannChief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Angela FernandezExecutive Director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights and co-founder of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, and Peter L. Markowitz, Interim Executive Director of the Immigrant Justice Corps. Jonathan provided introductory remarks, which are included below. Video will be made available shortly.

Improving Immigrant Access to Justice: Innovative Approaches

May 14, 2014

Good evening, I am Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. It is my pleasure to welcome you to a discussion on innovative approaches to improving immigrant access to justice.

Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt would have been pleased that we gather in their home tonight to explore this topic so central to our values and national character. Hear Franklin’s words in his October 1940 radio address to the Herald Tribune Forum. He spoke of how immigrants contribute to our country when he said:

“…These varied Americans with varied backgrounds are all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. All of them are inheritors of the same stalwart tradition—a tradition of unusual enterprise, of adventurousness, of courage ‘to pull up stakes and git moving.’ That has been the great, compelling force in our history. Our continent, our hemisphere, has been populated by people who wanted a life better than the life they had previously known. They were willing to undergo all conceivable perils, all conceivable hardships, to achieve the better life. They were animated just as we are animated by this compelling force today. It is what makes us Americans…They built a system in which Government and people are one—a nation which is a partnership and can continue as a partnership. That is our strength today.” It is this sense of partnership and our panelists’ commitment to fairness and the rule of law that brings us together tonight.

But I think FDR would be troubled, as we are, by these startling facts:

  • In New York City, 60% of detained immigrants facing deportation do not have attorneys by the time their cases are completed.
  • It is estimated that 40% of undocumented children are eligible for legal status but only a few have legal counsel to help them secure that status.
  • And individuals not detained but who face deportation are successful in their case 74% of the time if they have legal counsel, but only 13% if they are unrepresented. Quite a difference.

One of our panelists tonight, Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Robert Katzmann, has taken the lead in addressing this shocking situation. In 2007 he gave the Marden Lecture at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York about the unmet needs of the immigrant poor. It was rich in evidence of how badly immigrants facing deportation were treated by both administrative and judicial arms of our government. And it was a clarion call for reform. “We are a nation of immigrants, whose contributions have been vital to who we are and hope to be. All too often immigrants are deprived of adequate legal representation, essential if they and their families are to live openly and with security. This failure should be a concern for all of us committed to the fair and efficient administration of justice.”

A year later, Judge Katzmann convened a study group on immigrant deportation made up of 50 leading lawyers in private practice, leaders of immigrant service organizations, government officials and more. It commissioned a New York Immigrant Population Study which documented the statistics I cited earlier. Its work lead to the establishment of two important projects we will discuss this evening.   Starting this year, the Immigrant Justice Corps-spearheaded by Justice Katzmann’s efforts – began its work of providing New York’s immigrant population with high-quality legal assistance.  The I.J.C. recruits from a pool of talented young lawyers and law students around the country, partnering them with non-profits that specialize in immigration assistance.  The founding of the Corps marks the largest expansion of immigration legal services in New York’s City’s history.

We have a distinguished moderator today who will help to facilitate what I know will be a thoughtful and lively discussion. I am delighted to introduce Mirela Iverac, a reporter for WNYC, where she covers topics on poverty and immigration. In 2013, Mirela won a Gracie award for Outstanding Reporter for her coverage of those issues.  Prior to joining WNYC, she was a freelance contributor to the New York Times. Mirela holds master’s degrees in journalism from Columbia University and in international affairs from the University of Cambridge, U.K.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mirela Iverac from WNYC who will introduce the other panelists this evening.

 

Robert Orr Introduction

On October 26, 2011, Jonathan Fanton introduced Robert C. Orr, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning. Orr discussed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s agenda for his second term, and previewed the themes of the Secretary-General’s acceptance speech planned for January 2012.

Robert Orr – Introduction

October 26, 2011

Good evening. I am Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of Roosevelt House, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to an event which exemplifies the mission of Roosevelt House. Our guest, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN for Planning and Policy, Robert Orr, will preview the themes that will animate Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s second term. Robert Orr is working closely with the Secretary-General in framing the priorities for the next five years, a daunting task given the daily crises, long term challenges, and opportunities to create a safe and more just world that lie ahead.

I came to know Bob Orr when I was President of the MacArthur Foundation and we worked on issues like reducing dangers from biological and chemical weapons, protecting the environment, advancing human rights and framing the new norm of the Responsibility to Protect, a commitment we have seen engaged in Kenya, the Ivory Coast and Libya.

I came to admire his vision of what the UN can be at its best, his commitment to make the UN an effective force for advancing humankind’s noblest instincts and aspirations and his ability to get things done. Widely respected and trusted by people and countries who do not trust each other, he is a human bridge of understanding, able to build coalitions that advance the Secretary-General’s goals.

He combines theory and practice as well as anyone I know. With a Ph.D.  and M.P.A. from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, he has led the Belfer Center of Science and International Affairs at Harvard, served as Director of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington,  published extensively on post-conflict situations, including Winning the Peace: an American Strategy for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Keeping the Peace: Multidimensional UN Operations in Cambodia  and El Salvador.

On the practice side, he has been Director of the USUN Washington office and Director of Global and Multilateral Affairs at the National Security Council. In his current role he is responsible for the Secretary-General’s Policy Committee and is a policy advisor to Ban Ki-moon on counter terrorism strategy, climate change, food security, global health, reducing the dangers of WMD and more.

And we are particularly grateful to you, Bob, for encouraging the Secretary-General to preside over the official opening of Roosevelt House last year. His presence – and yours today – serve as a powerful reminder that within these walls Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt helped conceive and develop the United Nations. Your talk today is central to the mission of Roosevelt house: bringing policy makers together with students, faculty and the general public to explore the most pressing issues of the day.

So we are privileged for an advanced insight into the agenda in formation for Ban Ki-moon’s second term and appreciate your openness to questions, reactions and suggestions during the discussion period to follow you rem