California Legislature calls for fed gov't to ensure counsel for children in immigration cases

09/09/2016, Legislation, Immigration

SJR 28, enacted by the California Assembly and enrolled by the Secretary of State on Sept 9, is a resolution calling for the federal government to guarantee counsel for children in immigration cases, to halt deportations of children until they get counsel, and to prioritize the hearings of children who have counsel.

This resolution follows on the heels of a report by the California Coalition for Universal Representation (made up of California and national groups) entitled California’s Due Process Crisis: Access to Legal Counsel for Detained Immigrants.  From the report's Executive Summary:


California should create a publicly-funded program to provide appointed counsel to indigent detained immigrants in deportation proceedings. Immigration detention and deportation rupture California families, harm communities, and burden the state. Despite the grave consequences that these proceedings carry, there is no recognized right to government-appointed counsel for most immigrants. An examination of data over a three-year period reveals that 68% of detained immigrants in California are unrepresented. Furthermore, the same data shows that detained immigrants who had counsel succeeded more than ve times as often as did their unrepresented counterparts. Providing counsel to detained immigrants will keep loved ones together, employees working, and communities whole. It is both fiscally responsible and morally necessary for the state to defend its residents against detention and deportation.

These results come from examining data covering a three-year period, 2012-2015, and are consistent with several other studies of New York City (which, following release of the study of lack of representation there, implemented a universal representation system), Northern California, and the nation as a whole.