Government Officials Affirm Need for More Lawyers and Judges to Help UACs

Safe Passage, July 10, 2015

In American Immigration Council Immigration Impact’s new article, “One Year Later: Government Officials Request Lawyers for Immigrant Children and More Judges,” Rosemary Laughlin reports on the Senate Homeland Security committee’s hearing on the Government’s response to the 2014 surge of unaccompanied minors at the border.

Laughlin writes:

“On Tuesday, the Senate Homeland Security committee held a hearing examining the U.S. government’s response to last year’s arrivals of unaccompanied children fleeing Central American violence.”[…]

“two solutions received uniform support from U.S. government officials: providing lawyers to children and hiring more judges to address the overburdened immigration courts.”[…]

“Significantly, U.S. immigration officials from various departments all agreed that providing lawyers to children for court proceedings would help process their cases more fairly and efficiently. Juan Osuna, from the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) (i.e., the U.S. immigration courts), stated that lawyers would “assist in reducing [the immigration courts’] case backlog while providing fair and efficient adjudicatory proceedings.” Joseph Langlois, responsible for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS’) asylum processing, testified “there is no question counsel makes the process more efficient.” Mark Greenberg, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), touted HHS’ efforts to provide $9 million to NGOs that provide pro bono representation to unaccompanied children in proceedings. Osuna also reiterated the Administration’s request for $50 million for lawyers for children in the fiscal year 2016 budget.”[…]

“Additionally, the U.S. immigration officials all agreed that more immigration judges are necessary. For example, EOIR’s Osuna argued for “comprehensive reform with a bolstered court system,” and HHS’ Greenberg supported the funding for 55 more immigration judges in both the  House and Senate pending appropriations bills. Senator Carper reiterated his support for additional immigration judges,  calling the current situation of “overwhelmed immigration courts… unacceptable.”

In the weeks and months ahead, Congress is expected to complete the FY 2016 budget process. Let’s hope that Congress hears the call for additional resources and appropriates adequate funds both for judges and legal representation.”

– Read the full article: