Every year, tens of thousands of people appear in immigration court to fight deportation orders without a lawyer to assist them. Many are poor and adrift, unable to speak English or understand the laws determining their fate.
Were indigent immigrants to face prosecution in the nation’s federal criminal courts, they would have the right to a lawyer at the government’s expense. But nothing in the law provides such a benefit in immigration court.
For years, immigration lawyers and other supporters have pressed to change this. On Friday, the New York City Bar Association plans to release Cost of Counsel in Immigration a study contending that cost should not be an obstacle to the creation of a public defender system, paid for by the federal government, for indigent immigrants facing deportation.
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