Eleven federal appeals court judges have heard testimony in a lawsuit over whether undocumented children have the right to a government-paid lawyer. Lawyers for an immigrant minor who was unrepresented in immigration hearings argue that the Fifth Amendment guarantees the minor the right to an attorney, according to KPIX.
“We want a ruling that children facing deportation are entitled to legal representation,” said C.J.’s lawyer Ahilan Arulanantham, told reporters after the hearing. Arulanantham, who is Senior Counsel at the ACLU of Southern California, argued the case before the judges.
Cost is an issue. If each of the 102,000 migrant juveniles apprehended near the US-Mexico border were provided an attorney, it would cost more than $276 million, KPIX reports. Meanwhile, the minor plaintiff in the lawsuit is attending high school in Los Angeles while he awaits the panel’s decision, which is expected in 2019.
Most of us can only imagine the pain, terror and uncertainty caused when immigrant mothers seeking asylum in the United States are forcibly separated from their children. CNN has details in letters from some of the mothers who have since been reunited with their children, but who say their nightmare is not over.
“My children were far from me and I didn’t know if they were okay, if they were eating or sleeping. I have suffered a lot,” wrote a mother identified as Elena. “ICE harmed us a lot psychologically. We can’t sleep well because my little girl thinks they are going to separate us again. … I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone.”
The comments come from letters written by parents being held at the Dilley detention center in Texas. The Immigration Justice Campaign provided the letters to CNN as part of their pro bono project to give legal help to migrant families being held in custody.
As part of the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigrants, some migrants seeking asylum in America are ending up in a federal prison in Oregon. That has resulted in lawsuits being brought on behalf of these asylum-seekers. Attorneys say the government is illegally detaining them. Hundreds are being held in prisons despite the fact that they haven’t been charged with crimes. Hear more about the issues in this podcast from NPR.