Under the Constitution, a person who has been taken into custody in Florida and throughout the United States has the right to an attorney. If that person cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided. However, this is not the case for those who are going through deportation proceedings. The law considers a deportation case to be a civil matter as opposed to a criminal one.
Between 2007 and 2012, 34 percent of immigrants had an attorney to help argue their case. Of those who were detained, only 14 percent had an attorney. Having legal counsel may be beneficial because many immigrants facing deportation proceedings don’t speak English. Furthermore, the government generally has attorneys who are experienced in immigration proceedings. Of undocumented minors who had an attorney, 73 percent were allowed to remain in the country compared to 15 percent who didn’t have one.
Legal services for undocumented immigrants may be paid for by city, state or federal tax dollars. While some argue it’s not fair to use taxpayer money to defend undocumented immigrants, advocates say it could lead to faster resolution of immigration cases. Theoretically, that would result in a cost savings that could benefit everyone. However, a federal judge has found that creating such a system for undocumented immigrants would burden the system more than it already is.
Those who in the midst of removal proceedings may benefit from having the assistance of an attorney. Doing so may provide them with someone who understands the law and may improve their chances of remaining in the country.