Joe Biden to Expand Taxpayer-Funded Attorneys for Migrant Children in U.S.

by JOHN BINDER 19 May 2021

President Joe Biden is expanding the ability for Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) in the United States to secure legal representation.

In a presidential memorandum this week, Biden announced he would be directing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to, within 120 days, submit a plan to expand the agency’s offering legal representation to UACs who arrived in the U.S. through the southern border.

Likewise, Biden is re-establishing the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable that will “prioritize civil legal aid and expand access to federal programs,” a White House release on the memorandum states.

In his budget request, Biden asked Congress to approve $1.5 billion in taxpayer funds for grants that would be awarded to local and state agencies to invest in more public defenders.

The expansion of legal representation for UACs comes as illegal immigration has continued to skyrocket at the U.S.-Mexico border. In April, for instance, nearly 180,000 border crossers were apprehended. The month before, nearly 48,000 UACs were apprehended — a 163 percent increase from the same time in 2020.

As a result, the number of UACs being resettled across the U.S. has ballooned. In October 2020, a little more than 2,000 UACs were in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). By the end of March, that total had jumped to more than 14,800 UACs, about 11,500 of which are 15 to 17-years-old.

Since October 2020, more than 17,150 UACs have been resettled in the U.S. with sponsors, often times their illegal alien relatives. Roughly 2,400 UACs have been resettled in Texas while 1,545 have gone to New York, 1,779 to Florida, 1,696 to California, nearly 840 to Maryland, 674 to North Carolina, 792 to Virginia, 708 to Georgia, 478 to Louisiana, and 410 to Massachusetts.