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President Trump tours hurricane-ravaged parts of Florida. Also on the Tuesday rundown: We examine whether the U.S. spending too much to guard confederate cemeteries; and the spotlight is on mental health during National Children’s Health Month.

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Idaho's First Legal Services Org. for Low-Income Immigrants Launches

In the past, Idahoans in the immigrant court system were referred to free and low-cost legal services in Montana or Washington. (Immigrant Justice Idaho)
In the past, Idahoans in the immigrant court system were referred to free and low-cost legal services in Montana or Washington. (Immigrant Justice Idaho)
October 2, 2018

BOISE, Idaho — A new nonprofit has launched to give more Idahoans in immigrant court legal representation. Currently, only 25 percent of Idahoans facing deportation proceedings have a lawyer.

Immigrant Justice Idaho is looking to address one of the biggest barriers for immigrants in court: cost. The organization will provide free and low-cost services to those who need it. Maria Andrade, executive director of Immigrant Justice Idaho, said one of the most important resources for people navigating immigration courts is legal representation.

"This is one thing that I am 100 percent certain makes a difference in people's lives,” Andrade said; “and that is putting bodies, putting representatives in court with people that would otherwise be one of the three-quarters of people in Idaho who appear without an immigration lawyer at their side when they're arguing a case against a trained government prosecutor."

Immigrant Justice Idaho will be the first organization in the Gem State recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice to provide free legal and referral services. It is not required that defendants in U.S. immigration courts be assigned a public defender as they are in criminal courts.

Andrade said the DOJ's list of free legal services referrals is updated quarterly. In the past, those in immigration court proceedings have had to look to services in other states.

"The only name that has been on that list if you are in Idaho for the last 15 years since I've been here has been an entity in Montana or in Washington,” she said. “So there's been no entity named in Idaho that has been on that list."

Andrade said the other big part of this launch is education for the public and lawyers in the state who want to become better advocates for immigrants.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID