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Having an Immigration Attorney Makes a Huge Difference


We have learned since grade school about the fundamental right to have an attorney by our side when we are presented with the possible loss of life or liberty. Many people think this right applies in all cases when people’s fundamental rights are threatened by the government, but in fact, there is one area where no attorney will be provided to you if you cannot afford one: Immigration law.

No Appointed Attorneys

Just because immigration law does not provide an attorney for immigrants if they cannot afford one doesn’t mean that immigrants aren’t entitled to hire an attorney. If they can find and afford one, immigrants, like Americans in almost every kind of case, always have the right to hire their own attorney at every stage of legal proceedings.

It seems like immigration law should provide an attorney. People’s right to the liberties provided by this country are being threatened, and people are being threatened with separation from family, their job, and the property that they may have acquired while in this country. Yet, no attorney is appointed for them.

Problems Getting Help

However, many immigrants do not have the means to hire attorneys, and are faced with other obstacles that make it difficult for them to hire immigration counsel. Language barriers, and physical problems—like being physically detained by the government—make retaining and communicating with a lawyer difficult, even if a lawyer can be found to represent the immigrant.

Differences in Case Outcomes

In immigration law, the difference between having an attorney and not having one is enormous. According to a study conducted by the Penn State Law Center, there is a stark difference in the outcomes of immigration cases between those who get attorneys and those who do not.

The study found that unrepresented people had significantly more negative outcomes in courts than represented people had in immigration matters. The effect tended to “snowball” as well: People who were represented were more likely to be released on bond, or to be free from detention while awaiting immigration decisions, and that freedom helped them contribute to their own defense, and gather the information they needed to support their own cases.

The study found that immigrants who were represented filed relief applications about 40% of the time, compared to just 12% who filed such documents by unrepresented individuals.

The problem, according to the study, is that as many as 77% of immigrants had no attorney representing them. Cases that the study found to have merit were often denied, or else not brought to the attention of immigration officials at all, by those without an attorney.

Constitutional Rights

Immigrants do in fact have the same constitutional rights as full born United States citizens. The constitution mentions “people” in talking about rights, not “citizens.” However, the sixth amendment only provides for attorneys in criminal proceedings, and an immigration case does not fall under this definition.

Do you have an immigration problem or a question about your immigration status?  Contact the Miami immigration attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today with any questions you may have.





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