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August 8, 2014

Will illegal immigrant kids stay or be sent home? Depends if they have a lawyer
By Barnini Chakraborty

As the immigration crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border deepens, a review of deportation hearings for minors caught crossing reveals stark disparities depending on their legal representation. If they've got an attorney, they stand a fairly good chance of staying in the U.S. Without one -- they're probably getting sent home. That is, if they show up at court at all. The differences are detailed in a recent report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. The report traces the status of more than 100,000 cases involving juveniles clogging the system. Because crossing the U.S. border without authorization or documentation is a civil offense and not a criminal one, the government is not required to provide children -- no matter how young -- with publicly funded counsel. But legal representation is a key factor. The report found that in cases where the child had an attorney, they were allowed to stay in the United States nearly half the time. Children who appeared in court alone or without any type of legal representation were deported nine out of 10 times, according to the report.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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