More than 87,000 undocumented immigrant children have made court appearances since 2005 without legal representation, says The Christian Science Monitor in part three of its series on U.S.-Mexico border issues.
Most of the children were sent to the United States by parents or relatives trying to protect them from extreme gang violence, corruption, and poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the CSM says.
But smuggling costs several thousand dollars, and by the time these unaccompanied children reach the United States, there’s no money left for anything — let alone for a lawyer.
During the past five years, juveniles with lawyers won 85 percent of their cases in immigration court, and those without a lawyer lost 87 percent of their cases, according to an analysis of data maintained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
The American Bar Association says the situation is a “nationwide due process crisis.” Others say it’s a blot on a nation that seeks to uphold the ideal of equal justice under law.