Create permanent pathways to immigrant inclusion through the provision of scalable, data-driven, and innovative legal defense strategies.
The Equity Corps officially launched in the fall of 2018, with support from the City of Portland and Multnomah County. The program is the culmination of a years-long effort by members of the Oregon Ready coalition to create an innovative universal representation model to defend immigrant Oregonians from unjust and unlawful deportations.
With immigrants’ rights increasingly under attack, immigrant communities of color are at greater risk of deportation. Many immigrant Oregonians lack the resources to find quality legal representation in removal proceedings. As a result, nearly half of respondents appear in the Portland Immigration Court without legal counsel. Without an attorney, respondents are far less likely to prevail against an unjust deportation.
Legal representation is often the difference between an immigrant exercising their rights and accepting an unfair outcome, between an asylum seeker receiving refuge or returning to a life-threatening situation, and between a family with mixed residency status staying together and being split apart. Immigrants who are represented in removal proceedings are fifteen times more likely to apply for relief and five-and-a-half times more likely to win their cases and prevail against unjust deportations when compared to their non-represented counterparts.
The Equity Corps deploys attorneys when they are needed the most–in the period when the risk of deportation is highest. This unique deployment point, combined with coordinated systems of pro se support and targeted advocacy, allows deportation defense attorneys to effectively represent more people while bringing down the per-case representation cost.
Over time, the program aims to scale to provide legal represenation for every Oregonian facing removal proceedings in the Portland Immigration Court without the financial ability to secure a private attorney. As of now, funding is limited to provide services to Oregonians with a connection to the Portland and/or Multnomah County region.
Read more about the Equity Corps model in the official report, Defend Everyone: Creating the Equity Corps of Oregon to Provide Universal Representation.