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Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Representing the 4th District of Illinois

House Democrats introduce Fair Day in Court for Kids Act

February 26, 2016
Press Release
Issues: 

Today, Rep. Gutiérrez participated in the press conference in the House to introduce the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act – a bill to ensure that children have legal counsel when they go before an immigration judge.

There are two press releases below:

1) A joint release from the principal co-sponsors (Rep. Lofgren, Rep. Roybal-Allard and Rep. Gutiérrez) and

2) A joint release from three of the co-sponsors from Chicago (Rep. Quigley, Rep. Schakowsky and Rep. Gutiérrez).

In addition, here is a quote from the press conference from Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL):

“We are talking about children running for their lives in many instances.  We need to make sure they have a lawyer, a translator, and a fair chance to navigate the American legal system so that they get justice if they qualify for asylum or are facing deportation.  It is literally the least we can do.”

“Estamos hablando de niños que temen por sus vidas en muchos casos. Hay que asegurarse de que tengan un abogado, un traductor y una buena oportunidad de navegar por el sistema legal de Estados Unidos para que puedan obtener justicia si reúnen los requisitos para el asilo o si se enfrentan a la deportación. Es, literalmente, lo menos que podemos hacer.”

Here is a short video clip in Spanish (https://youtu.be/hFnfY9fC3qQ) and a photo from the press conference (http://bit.ly/1XPXBEM credit: Office of Rep. Gutiérrez).

Link to bill text: http://1.usa.gov/24tfeyS

 

CONGRESS of the UNITED STATES

For Immediate Release:                                                      

February 26, 2016     

CONTACT:

Peter Whippy (Rep. Lofgren): 202-225-3072

Douglas Rivlin (Rep. Gutiérrez): 202-225-8203

Ben Soskin (Rep. Roybal-Allard): 202-225-1766  

House Democrats introduce Fair Day in Court for Kids Act

WASHINGTON, D.C – Today, 54 House Democrats, led by U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Luis V. Gutiérrez (D- Ill.), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), introduced new legislation – a companion to similar legislation in the U.S. Senate – to protect children and other vulnerable groups in immigration proceedings by ensuring access to counsel, legal orientation programs, and case management services.

The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act ensures due process for children and vulnerable individuals, and offers an alternative to ICE raids that risk sending individuals to dangerous countries where they face threats of violence, abuse, or even death.

The members were joined by U.S. Representatives John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Alma Adams (D-N.C.), and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) at a press conference this morning to announce the new legislation (video in link).

Under current law, there is no right to appointed counsel in immigration removal proceedings, even if the respondent is a child.  Statistics show the overwhelming majority of children without attorneys are ordered deported while children with attorneys are five times more likely to be granted protection. Advocates assert that a child’s constitutional right to “due process” cannot be met without legal representation.

The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act:

  1. Requires the government to appoint counsel to children, and vulnerable individuals, including those with disabilities and victims of abuse, torture, or violence.
  2. Requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Attorney General to establish procedures to ensure that legal orientation programs are available to all detained immigrants.
  3. Creates a case management pilot project to increase court appearance rates.
  4. Requires DHS to submit reports to Congress on the number of individuals identified in the Act who were represented by counsel and the number of individuals who received legal orientation presentations.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 26, 2016

 

CONTACT
Emily Hampsten (202) 225-4061 (Quigley)

Douglas Rivlin (202) 225-8203 (Gutiérrez)

Sam Avery (202) 225-2111 (Schakowsky)

Quigley, Gutiérrez, Schakowsky Introduce Fair Day in Court for Kids Act

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05), Luis Gutiérrez (IL-04) and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) introduced the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act, which will ensure that children and vulnerable individuals in immigration proceedings have access to counsel and receive legal orientation about their rights and responsibilities under immigration law.

“According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a majority of recently-arrived unaccompanied children are eligible for legal protection that would allow them to lawfully remain in the United States. Yet the ability to access these protections is almost impossible without an attorney to represent them in court,” said the members. “Under current U.S. law, there is no right to appointed counsel in immigration removal proceedings, even if the respondent is a child. But we know that attorneys matter. Nine out of 10 children without attorneys are ordered deported, while children with attorneys are five times more likely to be granted protection. These children and families deserve their fair day in court, and that is why we are proud to introduce this important legislation.”

The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act ensures due process for children and vulnerable individuals by:

·         Requiring the government to appoint counsel to children, and vulnerable individuals, including those with disabilities and victims of abuse, torture, or violence;

·         Requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Attorney General to establish procedures to ensure that legal orientation programs are available to all detained immigrants;

·         Creating a case management pilot project to increase court appearance rates; and

·         Requiring DHS to submit reports to Congress on the number of individuals identified in the Act who were represented by counsel and the number of individuals who received legal orientation presentations.

The need for this bill is clear. The complex U.S. immigration system consists of hundreds of laws that can take lawyers and legal scholars years to understand. Complicated legal motions must be filed, oral arguments must be made, and appeals are routine. Yet children as young as toddlers, and other vulnerable individuals fleeing persecution, often have to make their case before an immigration judge without legal representation. Approximately 70 percent of families (women and children) and 50 percent of children are not represented in deportation proceedings.

The bill currently has 39 House co-sponsors. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and several Senate Democrats introduced a Senate companion bill. To see full text of the bill, click here.

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