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Senators Introduce Bill to Provide Children in Immigration Proceedings a Lawyer

Every day children, some as young as toddlers, are sent into immigration courts all around the country. They can be asked to make their own immigration cases before a judge, often while a government attorney argues that they should be deported. This is because the government maintains there is no right to appointed counsel in immigration proceedings, not even for children. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), almost 50 percent of unaccompanied children are unrepresented by counsel at any point in their court process.

To begin to remedy this injustice, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), along with Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ),introduced the “Fair Day in Court for Kids Act.” The bill would provide unaccompanied children and other vulnerable populations with attorneys to guide them through the complicated immigration court process. The legislation would also require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Attorney General to make sure that legal orientation programs (trainings that give a basic overview of immigration law and the court process) are available to all detained immigrants.

For full coverage of this issue, see the website of the American Immigration Council.

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