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Judge Adds Thousands of New Plaintiffs in Lawsuit Against Immigration Agencies That Have Been Denying Children Access to Attorneys

shutterstock_263051327S-300x200A judge has given the go signal to a class-action lawsuit filed to stop an existing immigration policy that denies attorney rights to immigrant children in the Western United States facing deportation. Furthermore, the judge bolstered the case by sweeping in thousands of new plaintiffs.

On Friday, July 24, U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly on Friday acknowledged a new class in the lawsuit filed by immigration-rights groups in 2014, which could affect the present situation of thousands of immigrant children awaiting deportation proceedings. Judge Zilly extended the qualifications of the lawsuit to include all immigrant children under 18 living in the 9th Judicial Circuit who are facing removal hearings after June 24.

The lawsuit also extends to children who are not represented by an attorney or don’t have the resources to get one, as well as those who may qualify for asylum and deportation relief under the statutes of the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT). CAT prohibits countries from sending back migrants to their home countries if there is any reason to believe that they may be under threat of torture or death.

According to Ahilan Arulanantham, a lawyer representing the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrant Rights Project in L.A., the ruling gives thousands of children a decent chance of getting fair treatment in an immigration court. He also called on President Obama to stop the practice of deporting children who don’t even have attorneys to ensure their rights are protected.

When reached for comment, representatives from the Justice Department declined to release a statement on the pending litigation. The DOJ had earlier requested Judge Zilly to dismiss the suit, pointing out that children seeking refuge or looking to reunite with their immigrant families in the U.S. do not need a lawyer to guarantee a fair trial. U.S. Deputy Attorney General Leon Fresco notes that providing each immigrant child facing deportation with a lawyer would certainly lead to the collapse of the entire immigration system due to a lack of resources.

The lawsuit drew national outcry after Jack Weil, a senior immigration judge, said in his deposition of a particular case that he had “taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds” in removal proceedings. “It takes a lot of patience,” said Judge Weil, but added that, “They get it.”

The class-action lawsuit now includes plaintiffs from Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska.

To fully understand the complexity of this case, talk to the immigration law team of the Lyttle Law Firm today. Visit our contact page or call us at (512) 215.5225 to discuss how this case may affect your loved ones.