Immigrants Access to Effective Counsel Key to Deportation Defense

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Immigrants Access to Effective Counsel Key to Deportation Defense

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Unlike people facing criminal charges in a criminal court, those facing deportation in immigration court are not guaranteed representation by a lawyer.  Those who can’t afford private counsel and can’t find pro bono counsel are stuck representing themselves.

Judges in New York City and the surrounding suburbs were surveyed for a recent study published by the Cardozo Law Review.  The study found that 67 percent of immigrants who were represented by attorneys in immigration proceedings were deemed to have had successful outcomes in their cases.  On the other hand, only 8 percent of those who appeared without lawyers had successful outcomes.

For people facing deportation from the United States and potential permanent separation from their homes and families, the ability to be represented is of utmost importance.  But merely having an attorney does not guarantee competent or adequate representation.  The study also found that many private attorneys are providing inadequate representation to those facing deportation.  In the New York area surveyed for the study, many attorneys were seen to be predatory and not familiar with immigration law.  The immigrants who hire them can be more vulnerable to ineffective representation by counsel because many do not speak English and are unfamiliar with the court system.

While it is unclear whether the access to representation and frequent problems with quality of representation apply equally in other immigration courts outside of New York, it is undoubtedly true that there is a need for better access to quality representation around the country and here in Colorado.  Until that happens, those who are seeking legal representation for deportation defense would be wise to research their prospective attorney’s experience with different types of cases in immigration court before retaining them.

Link to Cardozo Law Review Report: http://www.cardozolawreview.com/content/denovo/NYIRS_Report.pdf

Link to New York Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/19/nyregion/judges-give-low-marks-to-lawyers-in-immigration-cases.html?scp=2&sq=immigration{b6b8f04f7bd4b863c4cfed8339fd19419bda3e071c79bc5ac8c810cb9c52e30f}20lawyers&st=cse

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