The Worldnetdaily is quite upset. Apparently someone actually thinks that if we’re going to hold legal hearings before judges to determine whether a child applying for asylum should get it, we should also help them prepare and understand the process by giving them representation. Shocking, I know.
Now that all these children are here – nearly 70,000 of them by themselves and thousands more with a parent – they must be housed, fed, provided health care, public education, transportation and special help with language and cultural barriers, all at taxpayer expense.
But there is one other critical service they’re not entitled to under U.S. law as asylum seekers: a court-appointed lawyer to argue their case before an immigration judge who will decide if they get to stay in the country.
Not to worry. Lobbyists for various government contractors are already pressuring Congress to approve funds for free immigration lawyers for the children.
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society is just one such contractor, which gets paid by the federal government to resettle refugees and asylum seekers. It sent out an action alert to its supporters last week asking them to call or write Congress and put in a word for court-appointed lawyers for the UACs.
Central American children “must be allowed to seek asylum in the United States,” the HIAS website states.
“Under U.S. law, these children are not eligible for court-appointed lawyers. Many children must navigate the complex immigration system alone and must represent themselves in court, and many are jailed while doing so,” according to HIAS. “This is unacceptable and un-American.”
Federal law requires that we hold hearings before an immigration judge for every child refugee that enters the country seeking asylum. You know who signed that law? George W. Bush. Since most of those kids don’t speak English and certainly don’t understand the requirements of such hearings, they’re generally terrified of them. You know what happens when they don’t have legal representation at those hearings? A whole lot of them disappear and don’t show up. You know what happens when they do? They almost all show up. That’s a good thing, by any measure.
It’s not particularly expensive to provide them with a lawyer for the hearings. They could easily contract with a local law firm with a flat rate of, say, $1000 per case. That’s barely a drop in the bucket of the federal budget. But of course conservatives are going to flip out at that because they simply don’t see those kids as human, they see them as The Other, those who came here to spread disease and destroy the country so they can take it over. It’s primitive tribalism translated into public policy.