Personal Injury

Debating the Rights of Detainees, Asylum Seekers, and Juvenile Refugees

In this edition, Students in Action introduces you to the groups of people who are most affected by immigration policies and laws-adult detainees, asylum seekers, and refugee minors. Caught in the complexities of the American judicial system, these people are the ones who most need, and are least likely to receive, legal assistance and protection.

“Locked Up Tight” investigates the situation of detainees—immigrants labeled deportable by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Detainees can be held indefinitely, sometimes on the basis of secret evidence. Is detention punishment? Are the detainees entitled to constitutional protections? Are there alternatives to detention? ( Activities related to this article.)

“Asylum May Be a Matter of Life and Death” contends that asylum seekers need all the legal help they can get to meet the required definition of a refugee. Outlined are the reasons why being represented by a lawyer is crucial for an immigrant seeking political asylum. ( Activities related to this article.)

“The Next Gideon?” explains why children’s rights advocates think the Elian Gonzalez case may lead to landmark law for juvenile refugees that parallels Gideon v. Wainwright . Just as Gideon gave defendants the right to a lawyer when facing jail, might the Elian case give rise to a law that requires free legal aid for refugee children? Also examined are other, less optimistic implications of the Elian case for children seeking asylum. ( Activities related to this article.)

Completing the Take Action! activities at the end of each section will help you begin to participate in and influence the public debates surrounding these and other issues your generation will encounter that involve the U.S. immigration system. You can get started by completing the introductory Take Action! activity below.

Take Action! Introduction. -Take a few minutes to think about your views on the following issues:

  • Do immigrants take away jobs from Americans?
  • Do too many immigrants come to the United States each year? Too few?
  • How do immigrants affect the U.S. economy?
  • Do immigrants really want to become part of, and contribute to, American society?

To find out more about these issues and to learn other interesting facts about immigration, visit American Immigration Lawyers Association Web site and Immigration Issues from

To learn about the work of immigration lawyers, read Careers in Immigration Law.

Student Central | Students in Action | Debating Undocumented Immigrants' Rights
Locked Up Tight | Asylum May Be a Matter of Life and Death | The Next Gideon?
Careers in Immigration Law