Thursday, May 23, 2024

Republicans Ignore DOJ’s Request for Funding of Legal Counsel for Migrant Children

blog post 8-12







On multiple occasions, the Department of Justice has petitioned Congress for money to provide legal counsel for the large wave of unaccompanied migrant children facing legal proceedings, only to be met with fierce resistance by House Republicans.

Recently, the DOJ asked Congress for $13.2 million in order to provide attorneys to migrant children, as well as expand legal orientation programs, conduct court hearings through video conferencing, and provide additional translation services.

However, Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of funding the DOJ, approved the request but opted to change the allocation of the money: no funds were included for legal counsel.

There are still those who realize that providing attorneys for vulnerable migrant children is a necessary step to protect the rights of these minors and ensure a fair immigration hearing process. Attorney General Eric Holder has stated, “How we treat those in need, particularly young people who must appear in immigration proceedings…goes to the core of who we are as a nation.”

At the moment, Politico estimates that as many as 40 percent of migrant children are being processed without any access to legal counsel. Providing counsel to children who are fleeing violence, often with limited knowledge of the English language, is the right thing to do for the children. Not only that, but according to a DOJ official, “involving lawyers at the beginning of the court process helps the system function much more efficiently.”