There are an estimated 4,000 children who are undocumented in San Francisco and facing removal proceedings and ultimately, deportation. San Francisco will become the first city in California to develop and implement a program to provide legal representation to undocumented children.
The non-profit, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights will be funded to provide pro bono legal representation to children and families facing deportation. About half the children in removal proceedings in San Francisco do not have legal representation. Statistics show that children represented by an immigration attorney are much more likely to be permitted to remain in the United States than those who are not represented.
Compounding the difficulty for these children and families to find legal representation is that their cases are being pushed to the front of the immigration court queue in proceedings known as “rocket dockets”. Cases that normally take at least one year are heard within three weeks.
Many of these children have legitimate cases for political asylum but asylum law is complex and they need a lawyer’s assistance in order to have the best chance to succeed. San Francisco Immigration Judges are applauding the program. Having lawyers to represent immigrants in removal proceedings streamlines the process and ensures that individuals’ rights are protected.