Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Announces County Immigrant Legal Services Program

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Immigration Legal Services Program will inject fairness into our judicial system by providing immigrant families who cannot afford a lawyer with representation and legal services to ensure they are better prepared to navigate U.S. law and avoid deportation when warranted. In the coming weeks, the county will work to design and implement the program.

"The right to due process isn't a meaningless catchphrase, it's a value enshrined in our judicial system that should be available to everyone," said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. "This new program will give a voice to those who are often left behind as victims of our broken immigration system because, without a lawyer, they are unable to adequately defend themselves in court against trained government attorneys. Harris County benefits tremendously from the diversity, energy, and entrepreneurship that immigrants provide. If we're serious about being a county that puts families first, we can start by ensuring they're not torn apart by a daunting, broken, and unfair federal immigration system."

Harris County has an estimated 18,346 residents currently in need of legal representation, and 72% of detained cases in the court that hears cases for several large detention centers near Harris County lack legal representation. Additionally, over 25% of Harris County residents are foreign born, including an estimated 412,000 undocumented residents who account for nearly 10% of the county's labor force. Undocumented immigrant households in Houston earned $11 billion in total income in 2016, paying $742 million in federal taxes and $448 million in state and local taxes.