Featured Issue: Ensuring Legal Representation for People Facing Removal

AILA is leading the fight for fairness in court. Despite the critical role legal representation plays in ensuring fairness in removal proceedings, the law still does not guarantee the government will pay for counsel if the person is unable to afford one.

AILA endorsed a May 2022 letter sent by 20 Senators led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and an April 2022 letter led by Congresswoman Norma Torres and joined by 46 additional House members calling for funding for legal representation in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations bill now being negotiated. On February 1, 2022, AILA, the American Immigration Council, and 147 organizations sent a letter to Congress and the president urging them to expand legal representation nationwide.

READ AILA Recommendations on Immigration Legal Representation Programs

The federal government should maximize the participation of private practitioners, nonprofits, and other legal service providers to reach the greatest number of indigent persons in removal proceedings. According to a 2016 study by the American Immigration Council, people were five times more likely to obtain legal relief if they were represented by counsel, and people who were detained were 10.5 times more likely to succeed. In the absence of a universal right to counsel, a significant portion of people in removal proceedings—at least 40 percent—are unrepresented by counsel.

Funding for Legal Representation

Government Announcements


Cite as AILA Doc. No. 21050438.