Every person, of every immigration status, has fundamental human and legal rights that deserve protection and respect. Most children and adults in Connecticut faced with deportation proceedings, however, often do not have access to legal counsel to help them fight for their legal rights. The ACLU-CT therefore supports Senate Bill 991, which would establish a right to legal representation for children and adult Connecticut residents who are facing removal proceedings before the Connecticut Executive Office for Immigration Review. In state criminal court proceedings, people are guaranteed a court-appointed lawyer if they cannot afford one. In federal immigration court, however, the law does not guarantee that same basic chance at justice – even if someone is a child facing separation from their parents.
Many Connecticut residents facing deportation are not represented by an attorney. In fact, roughly 76 percent of Connecticut residents detained at the beginning of their cases in 2017 were unrepresented. Available data show that 65 percent of Connecticut children whose cases were initiated in 2018 did not have an attorney, an increase from 2017.
We do not want to live in a United States that does not allow people a fair chance at justice. Immigrants' rights are not up for debate, and Connecticut should lead the country in protecting them.