Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Saturday, November 11, 2017

Omar Siagha has been in the US for 52 years. He's a legal permanent resident with three children. He'd never been to prison, he says, before he was taken into Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention -- faced with the loss of his green card for a misdemeanor. His brother tried to seek out lawyers who could help Siagha, but all they offered, in his words, were "high numbers and no hope" -- no guarantee, in other words, that they'd be able to get him out of detention for all the money they were charging. Then he met lawyers from Brooklyn Defender Services -- part of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, an effort to guarantee legal representation for detained immigrants. They demanded only one thing of him, he recalls: "Omar, you've got to tell us the truth."




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But Siagha's access to a lawyer in immigration court is the exception.

There's no right to counsel in immigration court, which is part of the executive branch rather than the judiciary. Often, an immigrant's only shot at legal assistance before they're marched in front of a judge is the pro bono or legal aid clinic that happens to have attorneys at that courthouse. Those clinics have such limited resources that they try to select only the cases they think have the best shot of winning -- which can be extremely difficult to ascertain in a 15-minute interview.

But advocates and local governments are trying to make cases like Siagha's the rule, not the exception. Soon, every eligible immigrant who gets detained in one of a dozen cities -- including New York, Chicago, Oakland, California, and Atlanta -- will have access to a lawyer to help fight their immigration court case.


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"There's no right to counsel in immigration court"

Stay classy, America!

#1 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-11-11 12:24 PM | Reply

Too bad mere citizens do not have the same potential opportunity for legal help.
For most it's plea deal or bankruptcy, innocence is no guarantee in a system not interested in justice but rather income.
In Illinois if you have any assets you don't even get the 15" public defender. I've heard a judge ask a defendant do you have a house?, No. Do you have a car?, No. Do you have a bicycle? Yes. Well sell it & get a lawyer public defender denied.
Even if you do get a public defender all you can hope for is a no jail plea deal, innocence or guilt doesn't matter.

#2 | Posted by kingcuke at 2017-11-11 12:34 PM | Reply

Can someone point to the part in the constitution referring to the right to due process where it says "except immigrants"

I can't seem to find that part

#3 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2017-11-11 12:35 PM | Reply

@#1 "There's no right to counsel in immigration court"

Yeah, that's the part that I was surprised at as well.

#4 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-11-11 01:24 PM | Reply


Why are you surprised? It's a civil, not criminal, proceeding. The Sixth Amendment doesn't apply.

#5 | Posted by et_al at 2017-11-11 01:40 PM | Reply

Wait I thought illegal immigrants were breaking the law?!?

Are you saying trumptilians are being inconsistent?

#6 | Posted by truthhurts at 2017-11-11 01:55 PM | Reply

@#5 ... Why are you surprised? ...

I was surprised at the civil vs criminal, and the executive vs judicial branch court.

#7 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-11-11 02:40 PM | Reply

Deportation is a civil matter and immigration courts are run by the DOJ. The only criminal immigration offense is "improper entry," typically entry at other than authorized border crossing.

There are many executive branch administrative law courts. They are governed by the Administrative Procedure Act. They can't put you in jail but they can severely impact your money and property.

#8 | Posted by et_al at 2017-11-11 04:56 PM | Reply


Thanks for the follow-up.

I was aware of the Executive Branch Courts, but I was not aware they were used for immigration issues.

#9 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-11-12 09:40 AM | Reply

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