Class-Action Certified for Children in Deportation Proceedings

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Children in deportation proceedings in immigration court, even those as young as three or four years old, have no right to a government-appointed lawyer. As a result, many children are forced to represent themselves in front of an immigration judge and face deportation to countries where they face abuse, human trafficking, and targeting by gangs and criminal groups. Most of the children appearing before our immigration courts are eligible for protections that would allow them to remain in the United States, but are unable to afford an immigration attorney to represent them.

A federal court in Seattle has granted class-action status to a lawsuit challenging the government’s failure to provide children with a lawyer in deportation proceedings. A three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will now hear oral arguments as to the right of children to an attorney in deportation proceedings. The lawsuit - J.E.F.M. v. Lynch - was filed in 2014 by Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, the American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP.

The class-action will likely include thousands of children, covering all children under age 18 who are in immigration proceedings in states under the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction on or after June 24, 2016, lack counsel and are unable to afford legal representation, and who are potentially eligible for asylum or make a claim to U.S. citizenship.

This ruling means that vulnerable children in immigration proceedings are one step closer to having a fair day in immigration court instead of facing deportation alone and unrepresented.

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Kolko & Associates is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, German, and Slovak, and we can arrange for translators in any other language.