Today marks the one-year anniversary of the death of our visionary leader, Judge Robert A. Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
As we continue to mourn his loss, we reflect on his legacy of helping to level the playing field for immigrants forced to defend themselves against deportation without legal counsel. Judge Katzmann recognized the crisis of legal representation for low-income immigrants and led the Study Group on Immigrant Representation to find solutions to the crisis.
His Study Group’s initiatives, the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), the nation’s first government-funded system for public defender-style deportation defense, and Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC), the nation’s first fellowship program dedicated to ensuring quality counsel for immigrants, are a critical part of his lasting legacy in the immigration field.
Judge Katzmann was an inspiration to young lawyers and advocates pursuing social justice and immigrants’ rights. We miss him dearly. At a time when leadership on important issues is so often lacking, Judge Katzmann’s vision, empathy, and commitment to consensus-building are sorely needed. All of us in the immigrant advocacy community owe it to him to carry on this important work.
To ensure that Judge Katzmann’s vision endures, IJC established the Robert A. Katzmann Legacy Fund, dedicated to realizing his dream of providing quality legal representation to all immigrants in need.
Today, we remember Judge Katzmann and honor his commitment to the fair administration of justice. Although we continue to grieve his loss, we are ever more determined to secure access to justice for all immigrants. His legacy will live on through the work of IJC for many years to come.
Executive Director, Immigrant Justice Corps