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Refugee Children Right To Counsel

Department Of Justice Asserts Immigrant
Children Do Not Deserve Legal Counsel

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The Central American refugee has caused a serious overload in our immigration system.

Nonetheless, as a nation which prides itself as a beacon of liberty, we cannot place expediency above justice. The rule of law demands more than a simple cost-benefit analysis.

Contrary to immigration reform critics, there is no such thing as too much due process. Especially for young children, from whatever country.

Unfortunately, our government is also not above bending constitutional to promote shortsighted political policies.

At a recent hearing, on the issue of representation, Department of Justice attorneys asserted minor migrant children should not be granted the right to counsel.

Even before the arrival of thousands of immigrant children, our immigration system was flooded by too many cases. The case backlogs and staff shortages have been caused by the administration’s excessive and inflexible approach to immigrant detentions and deportations.

This is linked to an unhealthy private immigration prison system, causing an unholy government and business alliance.

Meanwhile, as outlined in No Reform For A Troubled Immigration Court System, Congress has not shown support for an upgrade of the immigration court system during reform discussions.

No surprise, really.

Given the push and pull of a profit-driven detention system, adhering to a cost-benefit analysis rates higher than upholding constitutional protections.

In light of this callous approach to protecting individual liberties, the government’s argument against the right to counsel for young migrant refugees is predictable.

Migrants’ Right To Counsel Argued
David Rogers, Politico, September 3, 2014

“A preliminary injunction which says that there is a constitutional right to counsel would mean — without an appropriation from Congress, which I believe is unlikely – that you could not remove any child under the age of 18 years old from the United States,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Leon Fresco argued in opposition to the rights of the immigrant children to counsel, “Meaning the border is completely open for children under 18.”

 

He added if the government cannot stop the removal proceedings of every immigrant youth in the United States, this “would create a magnet effect that the United States is not prepared to handle.”

Fresco’s last point is based on a wild assumption.

Yet, even if his prediction came true, his position would remain misplaced.

As my good friend from law school, the Honorable Eric V. Moye, has noted, “How anyone could argue that a person could be required to appear before a governmental tribunal where that individual’s right to life, liberty or property is at issue and NOT have the right to be represented by counsel is beyond me.”

As a defense attorney for immigrants, such rhetoric forces me to question whether the Department of Justice is really a Department of Justice?

 

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