Economic Study Finds Appointed Counsel for Deportation Proceedings Would “Pay for Itself”

On Friday, May 28, 2014, NERA Economic Consulting released an economic study finding that a public defender system for immigration deportation proceedings would “pay for itself” through cost savings in detention, foster care, and transportation outlays.  In the paper, Dr. John D. Montgomery, Senior Vice President at NERA Economic Consulting, presents analysis of the estimated costs and offsetting savings of a proposal to create a program, entirely funded by the Federal government, to provide counsel to every indigent respondent in immigration removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. § 1229a.

Mark Noferi, Visiting Associate Fellow for the Center for Migration Studies (CMS), served as an advisor on the study.  The New York City Bar Association, which commissioned the study working with Wilmer Hale LLP pro bono, concluded that the “report should eliminate the argument that the federal government cannot afford to provide this essential representation to those in deportation proceedings.”  Donald Kerwin, CMS Executive Director, has frequently argued for appointed counsel to indigent persons in removal proceeding, including in a 2005 study published by the Migration Policy Institute.