Pro Bono News

It's Hard Enough for Detained Immigrants to Get Legal Advice. Trump Might Make it Worse.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

It's Hard Enough for Detained Immigrants to Get Legal Advice. Trump Might Make it Worse. 

"UNLIKE DEFENDANTS charged with crimes, illegal immigrants under threat of deportation — a civil proceeding — have no right to a lawyer. Still, those fortunate enough to find legal representation, paid or (in many cases) volunteer, are much more likely to prevail in immigration court. That’s why it’s unsurprising that the Trump administration, as part of its relentless anti-immigrant crusade, is now doing its best to impede what limited access potential deportees are granted to legal information.

Just four months after Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials lauded a 15-year-old program that provides detained immigrants with legal advice but not representation, the Justice Department announced this month that it would suspend the program. That’s a neat way to ensure that undocumented immigrants, 80 percent of whom have no lawyer with them in immigration court hearings, are kept in the dark.

Last year, about 53,000 immigrants attended information sessions presented by the Vera Institute of Justice’s Legal Orientation Program — primers on what to expect in immigration proceedings; their rights; and how to find a lawyer who will represent them on a pro bono basis, if one is available. Among the choices routinely outlined for detainees is the right to apply for asylum if they have a legitimate fear of harm if they return home — an option for which the Trump administration harbors particular hostility..."

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