Whether you have merely been contacted by ICE or are currently being detained, you do have rights. Unfortunately, the government will not provide a lawyer to protect your rights.
“I put my whole life right there, in their hands, my children’s lives, my family’s,” explains Mariana, a mother of three who was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
When Mariana tried to defend herself in immigration court, it was hard. She couldn’t understand the technicalities of her case. She felt physically ill.
“With the lawyer it’s just so much different, because they understand all these things,” she says. Now that she has a lawyer, she has been released from ICE custody and reunited with her children. She is awaiting a final decision from the immigration court.
The truth is, the American immigration system is extremely complex. It can be hard to navigate even with a lawyer by your side. It is almost impossible for people without lawyers to take all the proper steps, even if they speak fluent English – and most immigrants have a language barrier, too.
Nevertheless, only about 30% of immigrants have a lawyer handling their cases.
More than 10 times more likely to succeed with a lawyer
According to the Vera Institute of Justice, there is strong evidence that having an immigration lawyer increases your chances of success.
For example, the UCLA School of Law found that people who are detained are 10.5 times as likely to get a successful outcome if they have a lawyer. This is often because immigrants facing deportation have legitimate claims to remain in the country but don’t know how to argue for their rights.
Having an immigration lawyer can keep you from being deported and removed from the United States. The UCLA study also found that, over five years, only 7% of people with lawyers were removed for missing a court date. Of those who did not have lawyers, 68% were removed for missing a court date.
Immigrant rights are just as important as those of criminal defendants. However, the U.S. Constitution requires the government to provide a lawyer to criminal defendants who can’t afford one. It would be a much fairer system if immigrants had the same rights, but they don’t.
If you could be facing deportation or another serious immigration issue, you need to prioritize hiring an immigration attorney. It could change the outcome of your case.