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May 31, 2018

Legal Representation in Deportation Proceedings

The ABA expressed support May 1 for funding in two Maryland counties to provide legal representation to immigrant residents who have been detained and are facing deportation. A proposal pending before the Montgomery County Council would provide a special appropriation of $373,957 to fund legal representation for detainees, and the Prince George’s County Council is weighing continued funding for the Immigrant Services and Language Access Initiative to provide access to legal representation. In letters to Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer and Prince George’s County Council Chair Dannielle M. Glaros, ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote that a lawyer’s assistance during removal proceedings is essential for noncitizens to fully understand and effectively navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration system. “The presence of competent counsel helps to clarify the legal issues, allows courts to make better informed decisions, and can speed the process of adjudication,” Susman said. He noted that one recent study found that detained immigrants and asylum-seekers with representation, when compared to their unrepresented counterparts, were ten-and-a-half times more likely to succeed.  Recent statistics also show, however, that only about 37 percent of those in removal proceedings and 14 percent of those detained are represented by counsel. Susman said the ABA has long supported the right to counsel for vulnerable populations such as unaccompanied children and the mentally disabled, and the association expanded its policy in 2017 to include support for appointed counsel at government expense for all indigent persons in removal proceedings. “In our view, the fair and efficient operation of the immigration court system is fundamentally linked to the issue of access to counsel and legal information,” he emphasized.

Back to the May 2018 Washington Letter