No legal help for immigrant children

Immigrant children who are alone in their legal battle to stay in the United States can’t even turn to the federal judiciary to ensure they have a lawyer along the way.

A federal appeals court sided with the Obama administration in holding that migrant children in immigration proceedings don’t have a constitutional or statutory right to ask the regular courts to force the immigration courts to appoint counsel for them.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit did not decide whether these children who may range in age from 3 to 17 and who can’t afford legal representation should have lawyers appointed for them.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY: MEXICO-MIGRATION -“Because the children’s right-to-counsel claims arise from their removal proceedings, they can only raise those claims through” administrative channels in immigration courts, U.S. Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the unanimous panel.

“We would be naive if we did not acknowledge that having an unrepresented minor in immigration proceedings poses an extremely difficult situation,” McKeown added.

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