Children forced to be their own attorneys in immigration courts

After a long, scary trek through three countries to escape the gang violence in El Salvador, a 15-year-old boy found himself scared again a few months back, this time in a federal immigration court here. There was an immigration judge in front of him and a federal prosecutor to his right. But there was no one helping him understand the charges against him.

“I was afraid I was going to make a mistake,” the boy said in Spanish from his uncle’s living room, in a modest cinder-block house on the south side of this city. “When the judge asked me questions, I just shook my head yes and no. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing.”

Every week in immigration courts around the country, thousands of children act as their own lawyers, pleading for asylum or other type of relief in a legal system they do not understand.

Suspected killers, kidnappers and others facing federal felony charges, no matter their ages, are entitled to court-appointed lawyers if they cannot afford them. But children accused of violating immigration laws, a civil offense, do not have the same right. Immigration court is, in fact, the only court in the United States where the government has no obligation to provide lawyers for poor children and adults, legal experts say…

Having a lawyer makes a difference. Between October 2004 and June of this year, more than half the children who did not have lawyers were deported. Only one in 10 children who had legal representation were sent back…

Ever get a chance, ask the Deportment of so-called Justice why they insist on defending regulations promulgated by pimp politicians instead of working for justice for the needy?

Ask one of your elected representatives in Congress. You may have to explain the question.

2 thoughts on “Children forced to be their own attorneys in immigration courts

  1. p/s says:

    “The investigative arm of Congress wants to know what happened to hundreds of immigration court cases for people who passed an initial asylum interview.” (Jan 29, 2021) https://fronterasdesk.org/content/1654565/report-hundreds-immigration-court-notices-missing
    Also: “A new report says the government’s way of counting who doesn’t show up to immigration court is flawed. https://fronterasdesk.org/content/1654542/report-most-people-showed-immigration-court Authors found that 83% of people facing deportation showed up for all of their hearings from 2008 to 2018.
    The report from the American Immigration Council is based on data from the Executive Office for Immigration Review, part of the Justice Department. The agency tracks the number of migrants who don’t go to court. But it doesn’t include cases administratively closed by judges, or attendance in cases that are part of the immigration court backlog.
    UCLA law professor Ingrid Eagly is coauthor of the new analysis that does count those groups.
    “Our new report debunks the myth that immigrants do not come to court,” she said.
    The Executive Office for Immigration Review declined to comment on outside analysis of its data.

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