Mayor Marty Walsh announced Wednesday a new legal defense fund for Boston-area immigrants. He said $1.4 million in legal aid will now be available to the city's immigrants.

The program is funded by private donors and will help immigrants retain lawyers when they land in immigration court.

Walsh says having a lawyer when dealing with federal immigration authorities is crucial.

"Every year hundreds of children in Boston have a parent who is detained or deported," Walsh said. "Many of these parents have legal grounds to stay in the United States of America but there are no juries in these cases. Detainees don't have the right to an attorney, and if they can't afford one they almost always lose, and the family is ripped apart."

Walsh says that nearly half of all children in Boston have at least one foreign-born parent.

Immigration attorney Emily Leung says the effect of having a lawyer is profound.

"Your probability of being released from detention is four times more likely if you're represented, and your probability of success on your case is up to five times more likely if you're represented," Leung said.

Officials say the fund will now start taking applications from local groups to help pay to get immigrants more legal aid.