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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Democrats say illegal immigrant children should have constitutional right to lawyers

    Bill would grant taxpayer-funded lawyers to help legal confusion

    By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times - Friday, February 26, 2016

    Congressional Democrats introduced legislation Friday to grant illegal immigrant children taxpayer-funded lawyers to argue their cases, saying once they get into the U.S. they deserve constitutional due process protections to make sure their cases are fairly decided.

    It's the latest battlefield as Washington grapples with the ongoing stream of illegal immigrants from Central America who have surged into the U.S. in the last few years, overwhelming the Border Patrol, social workers and the immigration courts.

    Many of the children have claimed asylum, arguing they face dangerous and often fatal consequences if they were to be deported back to their home countries but Democrats said they end up having to make those cases in court alone, without the help of lawyers, oftentimes speaking only Spanish or an indigenous language that further hinders their understanding.

    "The provision of the Constitution requiring due process of law applies to everything," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the top Democrat on the House immigration subcommittee, who introduced the legislation along with about 80 other Democrats. "I don't see how you can make a credible argument that a 10-year-old can represent themselves, and so the due process clause is what demands this representation and not only the due process clause, but human decency."

    Her bill tracks with a similar measure Sen. Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, introduced earlier this month.

    The question of rights for the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants some of then children traveling without parents, while others are family units traveling together has bedeviled Washington.

    Federal courts have repeatedly ruled that there is no constitutional right to lawyers for illegal immigrant children, though they've hinted there could be specific cases in which a government-appointed lawyer is required, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service.

    On Capitol Hill, the two sides aren't on the same page at all.

    Republicans have called for quick deportations, saying most of the children are like other illegal immigrants, coming to join family here, or to work or to join criminal gangs. But Democrats say many of the children are fleeing horrific gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and face death if they are sent back which, the Democrats said, should mean they qualify for asylum here.

    Caught in the middle is the Obama administration, which has slowed deportations, but has not been able to grant lawyers.

    Courts have interpreted the Constitution's right to a government-funded lawyer to apply to criminal cases, while immigration cases are civil matters. Immigrants are free to obtain their own lawyers, but the government is generally prohibited by law from providing them.

    The Justice Department has tried to create a pool of volunteer lawyers, but advocacy groups say much more is needed.

    Earlier this year immigration agents tried to track down about 1,600 illegal immigrants who came as part of the surge, but who'd already been ordered deported. Of those, agents were able to locate just 121. Most of them have been kicked out, but an immigration judge in Texas stopped the deportation of about a dozen families, saying it wasn't clear that the cases were properly heard.

    Advocates say the children and families sometimes don't learn about their deportation court dates and are ordered removed in absentia. And even when they do show up, the proceedings are complex and difficult to follow, without taking into account language barriers.

    Those who do have a lawyer present are far more likely to win their asylum cases, according to analysts who have studied the numbers. In 2014, more than 90 percent of those without lawyers were ordered deported, compared to just 22 percent of those with lawyers, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Captainron's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    I would say that protocol rules. Children with no evidence of admissible entry could very well have been abducted. Officials must always assume the worst. We are obligated to contact their diplomatic mission wherever they have originated from. This is what we would expect should an American child end up on their own in a foreign country. It is the way of the laws of nations.
    "Men of low degree are vanity, Men of high degree are a lie. " David
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie
    They put themselves into the position, they need to be able to pay their own lawyers, not the American taxpayer. JMO

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2015
    It is a terribly sad situation that could be prevented by enforcing the border and not allowing entry in the first place. If we fail to enforce the prevention of illegal entry, we just create more problems that are totally avoidable and less painful. Too many people and leaders in this country don't realize that we can't just keep allowing this to happen. There are many costs involved beside the unnecessary use of capital to deal with these problems once in the US interior. There are far too many stories that get back home (country of origin) from illegal enterers that tell how easy it is to get through border and once here, the government does not enforce the law.

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