AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA Applauds House Access-to-Counsel Legislation

11/15/22 AILA Doc. No. 22111531. Removal & Relief

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) applauds the introduction of the “Funding Attorneys for Indigent Removal (FAIR) Proceedings Act” in the House of Representatives, led by Representative Donald McEachin (D-VA) and Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of the Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

AILA President Jeremy McKinney stated, “Even though our immigration laws are among the most complicated in the world, there is still no government-guaranteed legal counsel for vulnerable populations. As a result, about 40 percent of people appearing in immigration court – or about 700,000 people – do not have legal representation. That is a travesty of justice, when the data shows that having an attorney is the single most important factor in ensuring a fair and just hearing before the court.  Repeated studies have shown that an asylum seeker or other immigrant is five to ten times more likely to win a grant of asylum or other legal relief if they are represented. When the outcome of an immigration court hearing could mean the difference between life and death, the U.S. government must ensure those hearings are thorough and fair. Without an attorney, a fair hearing is next to impossible.”
Gregory Chen, AILA Senior Director of Government Relations added, “Today, AILA welcomes the introduction in the House of Representatives of the FAIR Proceedings Act – the bill will help this country end the injustice of forcing vulnerable individuals to face deportation without counsel by providing counsel in the most compelling cases, including people who are indigent and cannot afford legal counsel, as well as children and other extremely vulnerable populations. Further, it would require the government to improve access to counsel for those in detention, expand legal orientation programs, and require that case files be promptly supplied to respondents. If enacted, this legislation would be a critical step toward ensuring due process in our immigration system and strengthening America’s reputation for fairness and justice in the eyes of the world.”

For more information, please click through to read AILA recommendations on immigration legal representation.