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The Blade
October 19, 2019

Ensure Legal Fairness for Immigrants
By The Editorial Board

A recent report from the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic recommended the creation of a free public defender-style system that would provide lawyers to detained immigrants facing deportation. While the Sixth Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to counsel in criminal proceedings, immigration cases are heard in civil court, where the Sixth Amendment right does not Migrants involved in such cases are allowed to find and pay for an attorney on their own. But for those who work low-wage jobs, lack a basic understanding of American legal proceedings, or struggle to speak English, this option is no option. The study’s review of more than 3,600 Pennsylvania cases revealed that 77 percent of detainees had no lawyer. The problem extends far beyond Pennsylvania. More than 300,000 cases are pending nationwide in which immigrants are unrepresented, according to Syracuse University’s Transaction Records Access Clearing House. This leaves hundreds of thousands of immigrants, even children, to defend their status in the United States against trained government attorneys.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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