HOUSTON, Texas — More federal tax dollars will be spent on legal counsel for minors who entered the U.S. illegally. President Obama’s Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Tuesday that $4.2 million more “leftover funds” will be spent on counsel for the foreigners.
The money will go to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, according to Politico. These groups will handle finding and providing attorneys for the migrants.
Central American migrants have been placed in foster homes around the country as they wait for an immigration hearing. The new funds will reportedly provide counsel for about 1,200 children who primarily reside in Houston, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.
Republicans have voiced concern about using large amounts of tax dollars on legal representation; such a bill could get extremely high, especially if the number of illegal crossers along the Texas-Mexico border spikes once again.
Those on the right also complain that providing taxpayer-subsidized benefits to illegal immigrants, including legal counsel, will only encourage more Central Americans to make the dangerous–and often deadly–journey north to the United States. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte reportedly said the additional funding is not only illegal, but also “makes the problem worse by encouraging more illegal immigration in the future.”
In Goodlatte’s view, the best and most humanitarian solution to the illegal immigration problem is finding ways to discourage Central Americans from coming to the U.S. in the first place.
According to the New York Daily News, immigrants thought to be in the U.S. illegally have a right to a hearing in immigration courts, but they are not guaranteed taxpayer-funded lawyers.
Since the border crisis began, taxpayer dollars have been funneled to various nonprofit groups to provide services for the foreigners.
One such organization, Catholic Charities, provides the migrants many benefits including financial support, English classes, legal assistance, and release services to youths in the U.S. illegally. Catholic Charities is known for receiving a bulk of its funding from the U.S. government. In 2010 alone, it received $2.9 billion from the federal government, about 62 percent of its annual revenue.
Catholic Charities and similar organizations, also largely funded by federal tax dollars, administer “financial assistance” for the foreigner’s housing, food, clothing, and other necessities. It additionally provides case management by social workers, vocational training, English lessons, and legal assistance. Typically, the programs’ ultimate goal is to place unaccompanied minors in U.S. foster homes.
After a relatively short stay in a foster home, the foreigners are supposed to attend an immigration hearing. But many never show up in court–in Dallas, for example, 90 percent of illegal immigrants are a no-show for their hearing.
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