The Obama administration announced a plan last week to establish a program to provide legal counsel to the children who have recently crossed over the southern border of this country. Over 47,000 children have fled their home countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, at their parents’ behest to avoid the persecution facing residents in those Central American countries. When they arrive across our border, few can speak English, most have not bathed in days or weeks and many cannot articulate who or where their parents currently are. All of these factors raise great problems for determining what to do with these children and how to reunite them with their parents.
But this initiative is intended to help children under the age of 16 who have already received a court notice to appear for deportation proceedings but are not in the custody of the federal government. So this effort will not provide assistance to the latest waves of children coming over the border but rather ones who have been here for the last few months. Nevertheless, the federal government will appropriate $2 million in grants to enroll about 100 lawyers and paralegals to represent immigrant children now facing deportations in the immigration court system. The money will be distributed to non-profit groups who will find attorneys and train some of them to be able to handle these unique types of deportation cases. The program will center on the 29 cities that constitute the initiative’s geographic focus.
Whereas programs have existed for years to provide appointed counsel at the government’s expense for indigent defendants facing criminal charges, no such program has ever existed for people facing immigration issues in those courts. But even federal officials acknowledge that this program will only serve a small fraction of the children who have come in to this country in the last six months. It is hoped that other immigration advocacy groups and individual immigration attorneys in the states where these kids’ case get heard will volunteer to handle some of these matters as well. The failure to process these youngsters’ cases could exacerbate the growing challenges of housing and feeding these kids while they are present in the United States.
The Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to the immigration process to the United States. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice. In the course of Mr. Shulman's involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain residency if a new system is enacted.