“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. In immigration court, people face charges from the government, but the government has no obligation to provide lawyers for poor children and adults, as it does in criminal cases, legal experts say.”
Deportation and detention decisions taken against migrant children without proper representation are a judicial travesty. Considering the often tragic consequences of deportation and detention decisions for all migrants – consequences which are often equivalent or worse than criminal convictions for American citizens –, it is key that justice not only be done, but be seen to be done. Effective access to justice requires that competent legal representation and interpretation services be accessible. Why should it be different from what other groups in society, including the top 1%, consider absolutely essential for the defence of their own interests in court?
To read the full article in the NY Times, please click here.