Undocumented minors who entered the country with one of their parents are not entitled by law to a federal lawyer during deportation proceedings, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit of California ruling the western part of the country said today, in a decision that could affect the cases of thousands of minors.
The three judges who studied the case of a Honduran youth identified as C.J.L.G., who arrived in the country with his mother claiming to escape gang persecution, unanimously declared that federal laws do not guarantee the payment of lawyers before the immigration court.
“Ordering a free lawyer chosen by the court can put more pressure on an already overburdened immigration system,” Judge Consuelo Callahan, a member of the appellate court, said in her ruling.
The unanimous decision of the three judges of the court generated immediate rejection by activists, especially representatives of the Union of Civil Liberties USA (ACLU, for its acronym in English) from Southern California that raised the demand.
“The statistical data show – with the knowledge of the court – that minors are much more likely to win their cases if they obtain legal representation,” Ahilan Arulanantham, legal director of the organization, told Efe.
According to data available from the case, C.J.L.G. He arrived in the United States in 2014 at the age of 13 and appeared before an immigration court without a lawyer, after his mother could not get one.
The young man currently attends the high school level in Los Angeles and his mother works in a food truck known as “lunch box,” according to information provided by the Los Angeles Times.
Arulanantham stressed that if this decision is maintained, it could lead to the deportation of thousands of minors who currently request asylum in the country and come from regions with a lot of violence.
In a statement of support for today’s decision, Judge John Owens, who is also a member of the Court of Appeals based in San Francisco, noted that the ruling refers to minors who came accompanied by their parents and does not include those who came to the country alone.
That case, Owens explained, is a “different question that can lead to a different response.”
According to data from the Border Patrol, between 2013 and 2016, they arrived in the country through the southern border, and about 207,000 unaccompanied minors were processed, as were more than 200,000 families. (efeusa)