To the tune of $2 million to cover every unaccompanied minor, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Karen Bass, Lucille Roybal-Allard and Judy Chu offered legislation that would provide attorneys to illegal immigrants who are minors. The members cite the crisis at the border that includes thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America as the reason.
“It is a fantasy to believe that they have a fair shot in immigration proceedings without counsel,” New York representative Hakeem Jeffries told a news conference. U.S. authorities have detained 52,000 unaccompanied minors since October. The total is expected to hit 90,000 by September.
On June 6, DOJ launched a program to send 100 legal professionals to assist with the problem called Justice AmeriCorps. But the legal system in the U.S. is already backlogged with cases and legal aid attorneys are overwhelmed. The juvenile justice system in particular faces a notable backlog of cases.
The Legal Services Corporation’s total budget is $340,000,000. Further, the foster care system in America is broken. On June 26, the New York City Council appropriated $5 million to provide free attorneys for immigrants facing deportation. The 6th Amendment says, “a defendant does not have a Sixth Amendment right to counsel in any civil proceeding, including a deportation hearing…”