Illinois Senate Passes Bill Allowing Public Defenders to Represent Immigrants Facing Deportation

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

The Illinois Senate voted 36 to 18 to pass HB2790, which would give public defenders in Cook County the discretion to represent noncitizens before Chicago’s Immigration Court. The Illinois House of Representatives passed the bill last month and now the bill will be sent to the governor to sign. If signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker, Cook County would become the third jurisdiction in the country to offer representation, through the Office of the Public Defender, to immigrants facing deportation. The other two jurisdictions are San Francisco and Alameda County, in California. Last year, The Defenders for All coalition successfully advocated for the creation and funding of a dedicated immigration unit within the Office of the Cook County Public Defender (CCPD) to protect immigrants against deportation. As a result, the CCPD hired its first immigration attorney as the supervisor of the immigration unit. In November of 2020, the Cook County Board allocated $350,000 to the unit. This bill will enable the Immigration Unit to represent noncitizens facing deportation, and who otherwise would be forced to defend themselves pro se in immigration court proceedings.

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