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New report shows access to legal services for immigrants helps keep New Jersey families together 

Only the second state-level program nationwide, New Jersey’s DDDI program extends crucial due process protections by providing free representation to individuals who are detained by ICE and otherwise could not afford a lawyer.  

Photo: / AFSC

NEWARK, NJ (July 28, 2020) Two years ago, New Jersey created the groundbreaking Detention and Deportation Defense Initiative (DDDI), a legal representation program that offers appointed counsel to indigent immigrants who are detained and facing deportation in the in the state. A new report by the New Jersey Coalition for Immigrant Representation analyzes DDDI’s first year and reveals the program’s impact in preserving family unity, protecting due process and assisting vulnerable individuals in immigration detention.

As COVID19 rapidly spreads through immigration detention centers across the country, release from immigration detention is a matter of personal and public health. The report, titled Legal Representation Keeps Families Together and Strengthens Public Health: Findings from New Jersey’s Detention and Deportation Defense Initiative Year 1 will be released at a virtual press conference on July 29.  

When: Wednesday, July 29th at 11 am via Zoom and FB Live Broadcast 

What: Press conference featuring report researcher who will discuss topline findings and DDDI attorneys who have been working at the frontlines of New Jersey’s pandemic response to help medically vulnerable individuals and others secure their release from detention, alongside formerly detained community members who received representation through the program and have reunited with their families. Participants will discuss their work and make recommendations to advance universal representation in New Jersey.   

Where: Virtual press conference via Zoom. Register here to join.  

Who: The New Jersey Coalition for Immigrant Representation, American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, Seton Hall Law School Immigrants’ Rights/International Human Rights Clinic, Rutgers Law School Immigrant Rights Clinic, Make the Road New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Unitarian Universalist FaithAction NJ, First Friends of NJ/NY, Church World Service (CWS) Jersey City Immigration and Refugee Office. 


  • Liana Katz, Researcher, Make the Road New Jersey 
  • Leena Khandwala, DDDI Attorney, Rutgers Law School Immigrant Rights Clinic 
  • Lucas Alarcon Guerra, Client, American Friends Service Committee 
  • Fernando Fernandez Dominguez, Client, Rutgers Law School Immigrant Rights Clinic
  • Iman A Saad, Seton Hall Law School Immigrants’ Rights/International Human Rights Clinic 


The New Jersey Coalition for Immigrant Representation leads the campaign to advance a fully funded universal representation program that ensures access to representation for all low-income individuals who are detained in the state during deportation proceedings. 

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. 

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