According to a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a project at Syracuse University that gathers and analyzes federal data, children who have legal representation at immigration hearings fare much better than those who proceed without representation. Almost one-half of all minors represented by lawyers in immigration court in the past decade eventually won permission to remain in the United States. But over 90 percent of those without counsel were sent back to their country of origin. This large disparity demonstrates the extent to which having an attorney in these removal cases is critical.
The data indicates that, over the last few years, fewer children have appeared in court represented by legal counsel and their cases have suffered as a result. The release of this report comes at a moment in which lawmakers are considering whether to streamline the process determining whether children who have migrated here from certain Central American countries can remain in the United States. If the current process is truncated, it is very likely that fewer children on a percentage basis will have legal counsel to assist them in their case.
“It helps the immigration judges tremendously when people are represented by attorney”, said Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges who serves as a judge in San Francisco. “It’s even more important when you have children or juveniles in the process.” If Congress and the President approve a plan to shorten the current procedure, civil rights and immigration attorneys may launch a suit asking a court to declare that the revised system violates the due process rights of the children. Just this month, a coalition of nonprofits and lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the federal government of failing to provide legal representation to children facing deportation. As this suit was initiated before the humanitarian crisis reached its current boiling point, it prefaces a potential fight over the federal government’s responsibility to ensure children the right to counsel at such hearings.
The Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to the process of immigration to the United States. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice. In the course of Mr. Shulman’s involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain residency if a new system is enacted.