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Unaccompanied Alien Children Move One Step Closer to Legal Representation

In recent years, almost 90 percent of Unaccompanied Alien Children without legal representation were ordered removed in immigration court. We helped address that need for legal representation in New Orleans and Louisiana with PB&J: Pro Bono and Juveniles in 2014 for children coming into Louisiana from Central America.  Until children have court provided counsel, the need will never be fully addressed.  A recent ruling in the lawsuit  J.E.F.M. v. Lynch gets us one step closer to children having proper representation.  The order certifies that certain children can be considered part of a class which allows the suit to move forward as a class action.  Now, according to Ahilan Arulanantham of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, “Thousands of children will now have a fighting chance at getting a fair day in immigration court.” 

The suit was filed by the American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP.  This is a great step toward representation.  I must agree with Kristen Jackson, senior staff attorney at Public Counsel who said, “Years of experience representing children in immigration court has taught us a simple fact: Children, no matter their circumstances, cannot have a fair hearing without a lawyer. The court’s order recognizes the challenges that immigrant children share and it puts us closer to a day when no child will have to face an immigration judge alone.” 

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