Illegal immigrants facing deportation from the United States can benefit from competent legal representation. However, defendants in removal proceedings in immigration courts have no constitutional right to a court-appointed lawyer regardless of his or her financial situation.
Many of these immigrants lack the resources to retain their own lawyers to represent them, and they may not even understand the proceedings taking place against them due to language barriers.
Florida serves as the stage for many of these proceedings with one of the highest concentrations of illegal aliens in the United States. Many of these individuals arrived in this country as children and are simply seeking to live and work in the only home they have ever known.
However, this situation may slowly be changing. The New York Times reported on a panel convened in New York by a federal judge that included prominent immigration lawyers, academics and advocates. The panel recommended a pilot project to provide legal representation for low-income immigrants being held in detention centers in the New York region.
Findings by the panel revealed the need for such a program as 60 percent of detained immigrants lacked legal representation for their cases, which had a measurable effect on outcomes. When represented by a lawyer the detained immigrants saw a success rate of 18 percent compared to the mere three percent who still prevailed without counsel.
Last year, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a plan to conduct a case-by-case review of deportation cases pending in federal immigration courts. The review would allow for lower priority cases involving non-violent individuals to be suspended.
This followed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton’s memo advocating “prosecutorial discretion” in the prioritization of the enforcement of cases.
The federal government seems to be adopting a new attitude toward deporting immigrants not involved in violent crime, but seeking the right to remain and work in the United States.
This policy can be expected to continue under the Obama administration, which has already executed an executive order based on the DREAM Act granting temporary reprieves from deportation for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. Our Florida immigration attorneys can help you.