Immigration; legal representation; equal justice; poverty


All of us here have a common goal: ensuring adequate legal representation of the immigrant poor. A courtroom has multiple players with different roles, but all would agree that adequate legal representation of the parties is essential to the fair and effective administration of justice. Deficient representation frustrates the work of courts and ill serves litigants. All too often, and throughout the country, courts that address immigration matters must contend with such a breakdown in legal representation, a crisis of massive proportions with severe, tragic costs to immigrants and their families. For our nation’s immigrants, the urgent need for competent counsel in deportation proceedings has never been more critical. This nation’s immigrant representation problem is twofold: (1) there is a profound lack of representation, indicated by the fact that 63 percent of noncitizens in deportation proceedings do not have representation nationwide;1 and (2) in far too many deportation cases, the quality of counsel is substandard.2 Immigrants are easy prey for unscrupulous lawyers, who gouge their clients out of scarce resources and provide shoddy legal services.