Over $66 Million in Taxpayer Funds Used to Defend Illegal Aliens in Court

Investigative Reports |Press Releases

February 28, 2023

IRLI investigation exposes the radical legal group behind the scheme

WASHINGTON – An investigation by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has revealed that public officials in a number of large jurisdictions are collaborating with progressive, anti-borders activists from the Vera Institute of Justice to provide free lawyers to illegals, criminal aliens and visa overstayers – and taxpayers are footing the bill.

In the U.S., in criminal court, indigent defendants are entitled to a free lawyer. However, litigants in civil proceedings – like evictions, divorces and debt recovery actions – must pay for their own counsel. Immigration proceedings are civil – essentially the U.S. is evicting a foreign national who has no right to be in the United States. Therefore, the United States has no legal obligation to provide any foreign lawbreakers with a free attorney.

Nevertheless, the Vera Institute of Justice, frequently described as an “overtly political leftwing nonprofit organization” that is hostile toward any form of immigration enforcement, has teamed up with public officials in order to fulfill its objective of publicly-funded “universal representation” for all aliens who go to Immigration Court. Approximately 50 jurisdictions have bought into Vera’s scheme to transfer hard-earned taxpayer dollars to foreign lawbreakers – all at a time when the U.S. is facing unprecedented levels of illegal immigration.

As IRLI’s report notes, “The cost to U.S. taxpayers is staggering. Cash-strapped American families are laying out roughly $66,145,000 for lawyers to try and keep illegal aliens, foreign criminals and other immigration violators in the United States. What’s worse, is the longer those immigration violators remain in America, the more they tend to cost us – placing a fiscal burden on public schools, the criminal justice system and our transportation infrastructure.”

At present, there are approximately 1.6 million cases pending before the Immigration Court. And cities, counties and states that sign on to Vera’s crazy scheme may find themselves going bankrupt, providing foreign nationals with a free service that similarly situated Americans (i.e., citizens in civil litigation) don’t get.

“The findings of this report are indicative of how dysfunctional our immigration system really is today,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “On one hand we are purportedly enforcing our border and deporting illegal aliens. One the other, we are using limited taxpayer-funded resources to thwart the enforcement effort and keep illegal aliens here. The chaotic results speak for themselves.”

“This entire program is absurd,” said Matt O’Brien, IRLI’s director of investigations, whose department produced the report. “In essence, Vera and its collaborators are asking Americans to put up their hard-earned cash in order to allow foreign nationals to keep breaking our immigration laws. And it’s beyond criminal that U.S. officials will spend taxpayer funds on this kind of foolishness when they can’t fill potholes, buy computers for public schools or keep public transportation running on time.”

The full text of the report can be viewed here.


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