Philip E. Wolgin for the Center for American Progress has a new column that considers major due process failings in the process surrounding the removal process of asylum-seekers arrested in recent the raids of Central American mothers and children and offeres a look at what adequate due process would look like:
First and foremost, everyone seeking protection should be given information about their rights as asylum seekers as soon as possible after being put in removal proceedings. The Vera Institute of Justice’s Legal Orientation Program, which provides people with information about their rights and the deportation process and refers immigrants particularly in need of counsel to pro bono attorneys, is one good model. The government should make very effort to ensure that each asylum seeker is matched with a pro bono attorney or is represented by a competent nongovernmental organization, and no child should face court proceedings without a lawyer.
Second, no person who seeks asylum in the United States should be rushed to deportation. All those picked up in a raid, for example, should have their cases reviewed by a competent attorney to ensure that they have truly exhausted all of their legal options for protection.
Finally, Congress must provide adequate resources to allow immigration courts the time to fully consider each and every asylum case. On average, it takes 660 days for a case to be heard in the immigration courts. The average immigration judge handles more than 1,500 cases per year—nearly four times more than a federal District Court judge. Given the crushing caseload and potentially fatal consequences of deportation, National Association of Immigration Judges President Dana Leigh Marks likened immigration hearings to “death penalty cases heard in traffic court settings.”