Right to Counsel? Not in Immigration Court
You do not have to be immersed in the legal profession to know that legal representation is a right in US criminal courts. Simply watching a courtroom drama on TV will expose you to the concept of right to counsel: everyone has the right to legal representation and if they cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one. This, however, is not the case for immigration courts. Given the recent raids and introduction of harsher rules, migrants have become even more vulnerable, especially in the legal system. This means they also must have access to legal counsel, but many can’t afford to do so.
According to the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution, all those undergoing criminal proceedings have the right to counsel, but this Sixth Amendment right does not apply to civil cases. Civil cases include deportation hearings, which is when immigrants require as much legal help as possible. A sound legal defense can mean the difference between being never setting foot on US soil again or staying in the US. One can assume that undocumented migrants would not make as much money, thereby making it more difficult to hire a lawyer. Furthermore, language can also be a major barrier.
Always Speak With An Experienced Immigration Attorney
A significant problem is that some deportations occur as a result of criminal proceedings, but the deportation hearing could occur without a lawyer present. It is misinformation, lack of knowledge, and fear that forces immigrants to accept outcomes that might not have been necessary. Had a lawyer represented the immigrant, the person would have understood what kind of evidence they needed to provide, the legal justifications for a removal defense, and so much more. As such, immigrants should know that a lawyer can be present at an immigration court, and if they cannot afford one, they should immediately speak with a legal aid clinic.