In the News

Are Immigrants Avoiding Court? (WNYC)

WNYC, December 27, 2017

Are Immigrants Avoiding Court?

“‘Two thirds of attorneys who work with people who were affected by violence reported that they had clients who were unwilling to seek protection from the court’….’That means people who are unwilling to get orders of protection from the court.’ Those people tend to be in abusive relationships; they’re also survivors of domestic violence or human trafficking. Suzanne Tomatore has a lot of these clients as co-director of immigrant justice projects at the City Bar Justice Center. ‘If their perpetrator is arrested and they’re needed to testify in court, many of our clients are no longer comfortable going to court to testify,’ she stated. WNYC also looked at family court statistics to see if fewer cases were filed for guardianship, family offense or custody — but again, there was no real difference since 2016. And Tomatore noted that this data does not include ‘no-shows’ for hearings, meaning the person who is being served for an order of protection and is too afraid to go because of immigrant status. Several public defenders said fear of ICE also causes undocumented immigrants to try to minimize their court appearances in criminal cases, by accepting plea agreements they might otherwise fight.”

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