Rep. Gutierrez: Children Deserve Legal Representation Before an Immigration Judge

Rep. Gutierrez an original co-sponsor of the Vulnerable Immigrant Voice Act of 2014 (VIVA)

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–June 23, 2014.  Today at a Washington press conference, Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Karen Bass (CA-37), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Judy Chu (CA-27) introduced The Vulnerable Immigrant Voice Act of 2014 (VIVA), which ensures that vulnerable unaccompanied children are appointed counsel in removal proceedings in an immigration court.  The U.S. government does not usually appoint counsel in immigration proceedings and therefore, a majority of children facing removal do not have lawyers. 

While unable to attend the press conference today, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez is an original co-sponsor of the VIVA legislation and issued the following statement:

“It is just common sense.  No child should appear in immigration court and be expected to advocate for themselves.  Children do not have law degrees and most of the children currently arriving at our border have limited English skills.  It is silly for us to expect a child to stand alone before an immigration judge and get any amount of justice arguing their case against a trained government attorney.  Children may or may not have a good case for remaining in the United States, but we will never know unless someone who understands the law and the procedures works with them.  A child who does not have a lawyer probably will not qualify for asylum, a victim’s visa, or any other form of relief, even when the law is on their side.

“This bill will address the current gap in legal representation and ensure a fair process in our immigration system for the youngest and most vulnerable fleeing violence, poverty and hopelessness.”

Source: gutierrez.house.gov