Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wants the government to provide certain illegal immigrants with government-funded lawyers.
“Under current U.S. law, there is no right to appointed counsel in non-criminal immigration removal proceedings, even if the person in question is a child. Imagine that,” Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday. “The humanitarian crisis at our doorstep demands that we, as Americans, affirm our fundamental values of protection and due process.”
Thursday Reid introduced legislation that would provide “vulnerable” illegal immigrants, like children and abuse victims in removal proceedings, with lawyers — at the “government’s expense” — to help navigate immigration court.
The bill, called the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act, is co-sponsored by Richard Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Senate Democrats’ push to grant illegal immigrants free lawyers comes amid an ongoing surge of illegal immigration at the U.S. -Mexico border. In the past couple years tens of thousands of Central American unaccompanied minors and “family units” have been apprehended at the border and then released by the Obama administration into the interior of the U.S. to await immigration hearings.
Immigration activists and Democrats like Reid have blamed the border surge on the conditions in the Central Americans’ home countries. They argue that violence is spurring the northward flow and that the migrants are refugees who should be granted safe haven in the U.S.
“That’s why you see these women and children fleeing for their lives,” Reid said Thursday. “But it’s not just murder that these desperate people are trying to escape. People in these countries are imperiled by high rates of human trafficking, drug trafficking, sexual assaults, and widespread corruption. It is an understatement to say that these are not safe places to live.”
Republicans and immigration enforcement agents have pointed to the Obama administration’s lax immigration enforcement policies and amnesty programs as an enticement for illegal immigration.