By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee


At immigration court hearings, young children clutching teddy bears for comfort have been known to face off against trained government lawyers to prove that they deserve a chance to stay in the country. As with all immigrants appearing before judges, these children are not entitled to a public defender — and though some children are lucky enough to obtain pro bono lawyers, only about one-third are represented by counsel.

That’s why Democratic senators are hoping to fill the void in legal representation by introducing the “Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2016,” a bill that aims to expand legal access for asylum-seeking immigrants and children in deportation proceedings.

“We know that having a competent attorney can make the difference between life and death,” Joanne Lin, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel, said in a press statement. “The ACLU urges Congress to swiftly pass this measure to ensure due process and fairness for children and families fleeing persecution and brutal violence.”

The bill would require the appointment …

Read More