Immigrant Legal Defense Fund Passes on Second Reading

House gives preliminary approval to Reps. Tipper and Ricks’ bill to help provide immigrants with legal representation 

DENVER, CO– The House today advanced Reps. Kerry Tipper and Naquetta Ricks’s bill to help to provide legal representation for low-income Coloradans facing deportation or other immigration proceedings. The bill passed on second reading.

“Forcing low-income individuals to face an immigration court, especially during a complicated deportation proceeding, without an attorney is a failure of our justice system,” said Rep. Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood. “Immigrants contribute immensely to our economy, our culture, and our communities. Regardless of whether they are documented or not, immigrants have legal rights in our country. This fund will ensure that they are aware of and able to exercise their rights.” 

“As an immigrant myself, I understand firsthand how complicated our immigration legal system can be for families hoping to make Colorado their permanent home,” said Rep. Naquetta Ricks, D-Aurora. “So many kids in Colorado are growing up in mixed-status families. Ensuring that parents who are facing deportation or other immigration proceedings have the legal representation they deserve is the right thing to do.” 

HB21-1194 would create the immigration Legal Defense Fund and charge it with administering grants to nonprofit organizations that provide legal advice, counseling, and representation for, and on behalf of, clients appearing in an immigration court. These funds are designated to go toward serving low income clients, in particular those who are detained for deportation proceedings. The bill also includes stipulations to ensure funds go to clients outside of the Denver area.

Many people in immigration court proceedings have valid legal claims to remain in the United States but are unable to argue their cases effectively absent legal expertise in complex U.S. immigration law. Between 2007 and 2021, only five percent of immigration cases were won without an attorney, while ninety-five percent of cases where people were represented by an attorney were successful.