Children Facing Deportation Have No Right to Appointed Lawyers

Immigrant children who enter the U.S. illegally with their parents have no right to a government-appointed lawyer in court, a federal appeals court held Monday.

Neither due process nor the Immigration and Nationality Act creates a categorical right to court-appointed counsel at government expense for minors, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in the case of a Honduran boy.

The appeals court found that the 13-year-old boy had a well-founded fear of persecution from the Mara [MS-13] gang after he resisted efforts to recruit him, but he failed to show the fear was based on a legally protected ground. Thus, the court rejected his asylum claim and refused to block his deportation.

In a separate concurring opinion, Judge John Owens noted that the majority did not discuss and left open the question of whether due process would protect “unaccompanied minors,” making a similar claim.

The opinion by Judge Consuelo Callahan and joined by Judge David Faber, a visiting judge from West Virginia, with the separate concurrence by Owens.

Case: C.J.L.G. v. Sessions, No. 16-73801


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