Madison Immigration Law Center Seeing Positive Results, Expanding

The Community Immigration Law Center in Madison says it’s seeing positive results from the deportation defense work of lawyer Aissa Olivarez.

“Under this administration I didn’t realize we would be so successful,” Olivarez said. “I didn’t realize that those cases that I prepared some of my families for the worst outcome would have the best outcome.”

And on Wednesday, CILC will announce it is hiring two additional immigration lawyers. That’s an important step toward CILC’s goal to establish a public defender system for immigrants facing deportation proceedings in Dane County, said Grant Sovern, an immigration attorney and president of the board at CILC.

CILC, a free immigration clinic, is celebrating its 10th anniversary Wednesday and released data on the deportation defense work it began in 2017.

In 2017, CILC and the Immigrant Justice Clinic at the University of Wisconsin-Madison received a $100,000 Safe Cities grant from The Vera Institute of Justice. The funds allowed CILC to hire Olivarez to provide pro-bono deportation defense.

Because deportation hearings are civil matters, those facing deportation aren’t entitled to public defenders. Vera advocates for taxpayer dollars to support legal representation for immigrants in danger of deportation, and their Safe Cities funding help set up such a system in Dane County, Olivarez said.

Prior to adopting such a public defender system, only 4% of immigrants facing deportation in a New York immigration court without a lawyer had a positive outcome. With free representation, that increased to an estimated 48%.

According to data released Wednesday, since the program started in September 2017, CILC and the IJC have represented 53 clients in Dane County, and they’ve seen even better results.

Of 11 completed cases, 64% have had a successful outcome, which means an individual was allowed to lawfully stay in the U.S, Sovern said.

Plus, over half of CILC and IJC’s detained clients were released from detention on bond. That makes a huge difference in an immigration case, Olivarez said.

By Lisa Speckhard Pasque for THE CAP TIMES

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