Liberals are furious. They just learned that taxpayers don’t have to pay for lawyers to represent illegal immigrant children facing deportation. Even when they are headed back to a “s#!+hole country.”
The ground is crumbling beneath the feet of sanctuary supplying liberals. Amazingly, the infamous Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which for decades has leaned so far left it seems about to fall over, can no longer be counted on.
In Monday’s decision, the appeals court upset the ACLU by saying there is no “constitutional due process right to a free attorney.”
The system works just fine the way it is set up now, the three-judge panel decided. “a system already exists to give the children a fair hearing,” Judge Consuelo Callahan writes. Forcing the government to pass out free attorneys to every impoverished child deportee would only “strain an already overextended immigration system.”
The American Civil Liberties Union wasn’t willing to go to bat for 13-year-old C.J. and his mother as their deportation cases wound their way through the system. Then, the boy’s plight looked destined for review by the liberal Ninth Circuit. Sensing an opportunity for a progressive victory, the ACLU decided to step in and make a test case out of it. The test failed.
The government seeks to deport thousands of children each year who “appear before judges without a lawyer because they can’t afford one” the ACLU points out. “The result is an unfair process that pits children with no ability to navigate complex legal issues against seasoned government attorneys.”
The immigration judge properly advised the boy’s mother, who spoke on his behalf in court, that they had the right to “hire” an attorney. They just didn’t have the money. The case moved along without one and the judge properly denied the boy’s claim for asylum.
Ahilan Arulanantham, the legal director at ACLU of Southern California, emphasizes that children in similar deportation cases are “many, many times more likely to win their cases if they have legal representation.”
That may be true. What they don’t consider is that, in those cases, the families which have resources to hire an attorney also tend to have more substantial claims too.
All immigration judges are “required to fully and fairly ascertain and assess all the facts in the case not just act as a neutral arbiter,” the decision states.
If the claimant does not like the decision, they can appeal. The “appeals panel can send cases back to immigration judges if they fail to perform that duty.” In this case, the reviewing panel “upheld the immigration judge’s decision to deny asylum,” the Court explains.
C.J. and his mother left Honduras and sneaked across the U.S. border in 2014. Four days later they were picked up by police. Deportation proceedings began.
C.J. can’t go back, they insist, because the “Mara” gang put a gun to his head and told the boy they would kill him if he didn’t join up. Under Obama’s welcome wagon immigration policies, that was good enough to start an amnesty claim. Three months later, he was destined for deportation, even by Obama’s loose standards.
The Court admits that C.J. “had a well-founded fear of persecution based on threats he received from the Mara gang when he resisted their recruitment efforts,” they write. It just wasn’t enough to justify amnesty.
The court rejected his claim because “he had not established that the threats had a nexus to a protected ground, or that the government was unable or unwilling to control the Maras.”
The lower court was correct in deciding that “C.J.’s experience of having a member of the Maras put a gun to his head did not amount to ‘severe pain or suffering'” The Ninth Circuit also noted “there was no showing that the Honduran government acquiesced in the act” or “turn a blind eye to the Maras’ threats.” The Honduran government does not appear to be “unable or unwilling to control the Maras in the future.”
The ACLU is still trying to regroup and pick up the pieces before they figure out their next step. They can appeal this decision to the Supreme Court but that might not be a good idea. If the liberal Ninth Circuit won’t back them up, the Supremes probably won’t either.
Another door was left open by the judges. One of the three, John Owens, wrote in a separate opinion that this decision does not touch on the question of providing lawyers to “unaccompanied” minors. The ACLU could look for an appropriate case to test those waters.
Judge Owens wrote, “that’s a different case that could lead to a different answer.” The ACLU is thinking it over carefully, it could just as easily lead to the same answer.