Saturday, March 30, 2013

Immigrant Detainees and the Right to Counsel

Ian Urbina and Catherine Rentz of the New York Times in Immigrant Detainees and the Right to Counsel look at the question whether detained immigrants should be guaranteed counsel.  The extension of the Supreme Court's ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright, which guaranteed counsel to criminal defendants, to civil proceedings is especially appropriate given that 2013 is the decision's much-observed 50th anniversary.

Under the Immigration & Natinality Act, noncitizens in immigration proceedings have a right to counsel "at no expense to the Government."  In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal class-action lawsuit in 2010 aimed at testing the constitutionality of immigrants’ right to counsel. In that action, a class of mentally disabled immigrants in detention challenges the constitutionality of not being guaranteed a lawyer. A class representative in the case, José Antonio Franco González, who has an I.Q. below 55, allegedly was wrongfully held in immigration detention for five years.

In a paper to be published in the June issue of the Yale Law Journal, I analyze the right to counsel of lawful permanent residents in immigration removal proceedings.


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