ABOUT US

Universal immigration services, for a thriving community

We’re a team of local groups, caring nonprofit organizations, and dedicated attorneys all working together to make sure every immigrant in Oregon who is eligible, gets the legal help they need. 

We’re all about making sure immigrants in Oregon get the legal help they need to fight deportation or any unfair treatment because of their immigration status. 

ECO is proudly a program of Oregon Worker Relief.

ECO History

(ECO) was a pilot which started in the fall of 2018, with the initial investments 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, Oregon Worker Relief and immigrant rights advocates to create an innovative universal representation model to defend immigrant Oregonians from unjust and unlawful deportations.
Legal representation is often the difference between an immigrant exercising their rights and accepting an unfair outcome; between an asylum seeker finding refuge or returning to a life-threatening situation, and between a family with mixed 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. 
Universal Representation (SB1543) successfully passed the Oregon legislature in 2022 to create a permanent statewide Universal Navigation and Representation program which embeds access to justice in community. Now part of Oregon Worker Relief, ECO is a collaborative of community-based organizations, nonprofits, and attorneys working to provide Universal Legal Representation to all immigrants in Oregon. 

FAQ

common questions

ECO is currently funded by the State of Oregon, which provided critical funding to build the necessary infrastructure for this large scale program and meet the needs of the community. 

Funding allocated through SB 1543 in 2022 has been critical in building an effective statewide Universal Representation system

No, this is neither Legal Aid nor part of the public criminal defense system. A Universal Representation fund is needed because deportation and immigration matters are civil law, not criminal law. 

In immigration court, unlike in criminal court proceedings, immigrants facing deportation are not provided an attorney if they cannot afford one. All around the country, some of the most vulnerable members of our society, including children, are forced to defend themselves against deportation without a lawyer. While the government is always represented by trained prosecutors arguing for deportation, many immigrants are provided nothing more than telephone interpretation. Having meaningful access to legal representation is, by far, the single most outcome-determinative factor in whether or not an Oregonian will prevail in their immigration case, protect their family, and avoid deportation from the United States. Without legal representation, Oregonians who have a lawful right to remain in the United States are routinely deported.

Universal Representation services are available only to limited-income individuals, so all individuals are screened for income eligibility. For current eligibility guidelines please see our Get Legal Help page.

 

When community members are deported without the opportunity to have their case fairly decided under the law, our communities, our schools, and our workforce are destabilized and community safety is undermined. By reducing civic exclusions, family separation, deportation, and detention based on race and ethnicity, Universal Representation promotes due process and equitable access to justice for Oregon’s immigrant communities of color and advances the collective prosperity of all Oregonians. 

By ensuring that Oregonians with a lawful right to remain in the country are not unjustly deported, we are potentially adding an additional $40 million each year to our tax base. 

The program protects the $1.4 billion undocumented immigrants spend each year in Oregon, and the investments we make in education and employers make in training in their workforce.

Undocumented immigrants pay millions in taxes each year, and if they no longer live in Oregon, those tax dollars will no longer be paid to the state 

Employers are often forced to replace workers who are unjustly deported. This program provides stability to Oregon’s workforce 

Students enrolled in our schools are often forced to drop out after the detention or deportation of a family member. This program, which helps prevent unjust deportations, saves money by improving graduation rates.