Seattle Immigration Attorneys Take Note

May 26, 2015 5:18 am
by David Jakeman

Seattle immigration lawyers have watched with interest the proceedings in the federal court located in Seattle. What recently happened was a decision by a federal judge, Thomas Zilly, who ruled that three children facing deportation deserve to have the question of fair representation considered by the court.

Seattle Case

Judge Zilly ruled on a case concerning three children who had entered the United States illegally after they had seen their dad brutally murdered by a gang in their native country of El Salvador. The three children, with help from immigration advocates as well as the ACLU, questioned the process of deportation hearings and whether or not they were receiving a fair trial.

The children and their immigration attorneys argued that they had the constitutional right to due process, and therefore, the need for court-appointed lawyers. Without such support, the often rushed hearings would not allow for a fair hearing. The U.S. government opposed this idea, arguing that it should be dismissed. Judge Zilly did not agree and said that the question at least deserves to be heard in court as to whether or not the children are receiving a fair trial.

Justice Department

The Justice Department argued that the law makes it clear that undocumented immigrant children are not owed legal counsel on the government’s dime. Though they do say that they do believe that children in deportation should have immigration lawyers, and they have asked Congress to pay for such a project.

Some observers dislike the idea, believing it will lead to a slippery slope where everyone who is undocumented and facing deportation will be given a lawyer paid for by the government. Given how overworked many public defenders are, it’s hard to believe that would be a sustainable or viable solution, which is probably why many would be afraid of creating a constitutional mandate that all immigrants must be given immigration attorneys paid for by the government.1

But you also have to understand the plight of these children, caught up in a whirlwind of global events and local devastation. It is hard not to have sympathy for a young child who came to the United States seeking a safer place to live. In the often hurried deportation, it’s easy to believe that many are not getting their fair shake, and some may not even fully understand what is going on.

Seattle immigration attorneys continue to watch out for further developments on this case. Many local events would be affected if the courts do decide that undocumented children have the legal right to legal counsel in the case they face deportation proceedings. These difficult situations are not the easiest to figure out, and there generally is never a simple solution to such a big problem. Obviously, immigration reform on a larger scale would be much more helpful, but as the presidential campaigns start to hit full swing, it’s likely the public attention will be turned elsewhere.

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