NJ doles out $250,000 for law students to rep illegals in court

If you’re an illegal immigrant in New Jersey, the state wants to help you deal with ICE and federal immigration courts.

The New Jersey Department of the Treasury, which is currently under the control of first-term Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy, devoted $2.1 million to legal representation for residents with immigration-related troubles, according to a November news release from the state governor.

Under the grant agreement, law school clinics at Seton Hall University and Rutgers University each received $125,000 for these purposes. 

An NYU study previously reported on by Campus Reform offered suggestions for combating recent immigration policies pushed by the Trump administration, which have “led more mixed-status immigration families to live in a growing climate of fear and anxiety.”

[RELATED: NYU study advocates providing government benefits to illegal aliens]

One of the “mitigating strategies” suggested in the NYU report is to have American taxpayers fund legal representation by providing “state- or city-funded legal representation for those facing federal immigration courts.” The two New Jersey law schools of Rutgers and Seton Hall are also granting credit to law school students doing pro-bono work for immigrants facing possible deportation and refugees seeking asylum.

Rutgers law school announced its program earlier in the spring 2019 semester, when it profiled the work that Pina Cirillo, a 2015 Rutgers Law graduate, has done with the clinic. Cirillo said in the feature that she was “really excited about the project.”

Professor Anju Gupta, who oversees Cirillo’s work in his role as the Director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at Rutgers, said in the aforementioned Rutgers Law news release that the “funding from the Governor is an important step in ensuring that all of New Jersey’s detained immigrants get the representation they deserve. We hope this is only the beginning.” 

Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), gave Campus Reform a bit of a different take on the policy: “New Jersey has proudly come out as a sanctuary state, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they are actively defending illegal aliens in court as well as defying federal law by refusing to cooperate with ICE.”

[RELATED: Prof bans the term ‘illegal immigrants’ on final exams]

Wilcox also spoke about the cost of such policies, noting to Campus Reform that “the real losers in this are the residents of New Jersey. They pay taxes that are now used for the benefit of illegal aliens, see their health care and education systems overwhelmed, and live in communities that are more dangerous.”

Hans Von Spakovsky, an immigration expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, agreed, telling Campus Reform, “There are poor citizens in the state of New Jersey who can not afford legal representation in all kinds of everyday matters, from criminal cases to housing disputes, to child welfare issues. Given the limited amount of money that the state provides, you would think that their number one priority ought to be helping citizens before they help illegal aliens.”

But an Ivy League academic who researches programs such as the one in New Jersey told Campus Reform on background that she sees a need for such initiatives because not all immigrants who are detained and facing deportation are criminals at the time they are in the immigration courts. According to her, various categories of immigrants -  including refugees and asylum seekers -  benefit from such representation.

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