The whole situation with the Donald Trump administration’s family separation crisis has gotten so absurd that children who were separated from their parents are being ordered to appear at deportation proceedings.
In recent months, hundreds of children under 4 had to show up for deportation proceedings and defend their right to stay in the U.S. in the absence of their parents and not represented by an attorney.
In the vast majority of cases, these children are not legally represented by a Salt Lake City deportation defense attorney. And it is not surprising considering that most of them cannot afford a lawyer and have no idea what is going on.
Immigrant children are representing themselves in deportation defense proceedings
While stories of 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds sitting in the courtroom as defendants without their parents and a lawyer may seem bizarre, under U.S. immigration law, both children and adults have a right to a lawyer in immigration proceedings. The problem is, however, that in most cases, immigrants cannot afford American lawyers, and the government does not provide them with public attorneys at the expense to the government.
Meaning: in most cases, immigrants who are facing deportation, both children and adults, must represent themselves against a senior government prosecutor, having no clue about U.S. immigration laws and not being able to speak fluent English.
“Under immigration law in Utah and all across the nation, the burden of proof to establish an immigrant’s eligibility for protections such as seeking asylum or lawful permanent residence falls on the shoulders of the immigrant,” explains our experienced deportation defense attorney in Salt Lake City.
How to protect separated kids at the border?
Having no attorney by their side at a deportation proceeding puts an immigrant at a great disadvantage, as in addition to having to defend themselves against a government prosecutor, they are also required to fill out complicated immigration forms, collect evidence to build a solid defense, and prove in the courtroom that they are eligible for protections offered by the U.S. law.
Fact: Studies shows that you are 10 times more likely to win your case if you are being represented by a deportation defense lawyer.
Here at the Familia America Immigration law firm, our best immigration lawyers in Utah have represented children as young as 5 and 4 years old. In those cases, we had to get to know the kids better through learning their family’s history, establishing what forced them to flee their country, and how they crossed the border to determine whether or not the child has a defense to deportation.
Do you really need a deportation defense attorney?
In most cases, defending against an experienced prosecutor at a deportation proceeding is not possible for unrepresented immigrant adults, let alone children. Not to mention that some deportation defenses require immigrants to prepare for a hearing in advance, which is something that would not be possible for a 4-year-old.
For example, in order to seek lawful permanent residence in the U.S., immigrant children must apply for a special visa for abused, neglected, or abandoned children. How they are expected to do this without their parents, Salt Lake City deportation defense attorney, caretaker or representative is not clear. But applying for this visa is half of the problem.
The child is also expected to file a petition with a state court to determine his/her best interests and present proof that he/she was abused, neglected, or abandoned. Then, the child must wait for the state court’s approval, and then file a petition with U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services within the Department of Homeland Security. Upon approval, the child will be entitled to file a lawful permanent residence application to the immigration judge.
It looks like the problem of separated children having to represent themselves at deportation proceedings could get even worse, as the Trump administration has pledged to cut funds for representation programs and revoke some of the existing child protections.
If you are worried about your future in the U.S. as an immigrant or you were separated from your children or parents at the border, seek immediate legal help from our lawyers at the Familia America Immigration law firm. Call our offices at 801-656-9605 or complete this contact form for a free case evaluation. Se habla Espanol.