(ESPAÑOL) Studies have revealed that unrepresented deportable immigrants face much higher deportation rates than those with an attorney’s help. The disparity is especially stark in Texas.
From October 2000 through February 2018, less than 30 percent — 213,197 of 733,125 — of immigrants in deportation proceedings in Texas had representation, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. That rate is one of the lowest in the country, behind only Arizona and Louisiana among the states with the most deportation cases.
Nearly 70 percent of the Texas cases during the time frame studied ended with a removal order. By comparison, 74 percent of defendants in New York had a lawyer, and just 27 percent received a deportation order.
Because immigration violations are largely civil in nature, undocumented immigrants in deportation proceedings aren’t guaranteed the right to an attorney. That also includes immigrants who turned themselves in to authorities and are seeking asylum.
Immigrant advocates and attorneys say that a lack of representation multiplies a person’s chances of being deported, and they said that the Trump administration’s recent mandates are guaranteed to fast-track the removal of even more undocumented immigrants. Attorneys say that’s because most immigrants can’t afford an attorney, which leaves them to navigate through the complicated system on their own. They are also often transferred from one facility to another, depending on where the government deems there is the most available space in a detention center.
According to a 2016 TRAC study, more than 80 percent of unaccompanied minors who entered the country between 2012 and 2014 and didn’t have representation were deported.
The latest sweeping change from the Trump administration came Tuesday, when the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice, announced it would end the popular Legal Orientation Program. That program provides detained immigrants information about the immigration court system and helps them obtain pro bono services.
The program, administered by the Vera Institute of Justice, operates at detention centers across the country, including Texas. It’s being suspended so the federal government can conduct “efficiency reviews of its operations,” The Washington Post reported.