Cost Of Counsel In Immigration: Economic Analysis Of Proposal Providing Public Counsel To Indigent Persons Subject To Immigration Removal Proceedings

  1. Qualifications

    1. I am John D. Montgomery, Ph.D., a Senior Vice President at NERA Economic Consulting, a global firm of experts dedicated to applying economic, finance, and quantitative principles to complex business and legal challenges. I direct projects and provide testimony in a range of complex commercial litigation. I have a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University. I have held positions at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, International Monetary Fund, the President's Council of Economic Advisers (under President Clinton), and Morgan Stanley. I have published numerous articles in professional publications.1

  2. Summary of Findings and Description of the Proposal

    1. In this report, I present my analysis of the estimated costs and offsetting savings of a proposal to create a program, entirely funded and overseen by the Federal government, to provide counsel to every respondent in immigration removal proceedings under 8 U.S.C. § 1229a who qualifies as indigent (hereinafter, the "Proposal").2 I must state upfront that information and data on legal representation in immigration proceedings is incomplete, and a substantial range of uncertainty consequently is attached to the estimates in this report. However, using a range of available numbers and background information, I have prepared what I believe to be unbiased estimates based on the best information available to me, from a variety of sources.

    2. A summary of my findings is as follows:

    Primary Savings: I estimate that detention costs borne by the Federal government would decline by at least $173 to $174 million per year, and likely substantially more. Additional Savings: In addition, I estimate that other Federal outlays, including payments for legal orientation programs, transportation, and foster care would decline by between $31 and $34 million per year. Together with detention cost savings, I estimate total savings of between $204 and $208 million per year. Cost of Proposal: I estimate that the Proposal would cost $208 million annually. Net Cost of the Proposal: Under plausible assumptions, fiscal savings could exceed the costs of providing publicly funded counsel, and the Proposal would pay for itself. The higher end of my range of estimated savings exceeds the estimated cost of the Proposal. Even at the lower end of the range, providing publicly funded counsel to indigent immigration respondents would cost the Federal government no more than $4 million per year, with 98 percent of the cost being paid for by Federal fiscal savings. 4. Under the Proposal, counsel would be provided...

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