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U.S. immigration law re substantive due process in court

Federal law determines a person's legal rights, duties and obligations as an immigrant in the United States. U.S. immigration law also provides necessary means by which an undocumented person in Georgia or elsewhere can become a naturalized citizen. A recent debate is centered on undocumented immigrant children and whether they are entitled to assistance from attorneys when facing the court.

Legal representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union argue that such children have constitutional rights and deserve fair treatment that must include legal representation to act on their behalves in court. Apparently, very young immigrant children are often made to face prosecuting attorneys without legal representation of their own, which could obviously prove quite intimidating for the average child. The ACLU filed a lawsuit in 2014 on behalf of at least 12 children between ages 17 and under who had come to the United States from Honduras, El Salvador and other foreign countries.

The legal advocates have requested that the court protect such children by granting them access to experienced legal guidance rather than forcing them to speak for themselves in situations that are already stressful. An Assistant Deputy Attorney General stated that while these children have due process rights to protect them from being tortured or detained for indefinite periods of time, they do not have substantive rights according to the U.S. Constitution. It was further stated that extending such rights to children would also mean that any undocumented person crossing borders into the United States would have to be granted the same rights.

The U.S. Immigration Law debate remains ongoing across the country. In Georgia,   immigration attorneys who are prepared to assist those in need of legal guidance due to their current statuses. A first logical step to take to retain legal assistance would be to contact an attorney in the area to request a consultation.

Source: Lawyers: Children need lawyers in immigration court", Martha Bellisle, March 24, 2016

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