During the summer of 2014, a surge of unaccompanied children from Central America sought entrance to the United States. The children, many of whom have no parent or legal guardian in the U.S. to provide care or claim custody, must now be processed through the court system to grant them legal residency. The complex cases are creating a need for pro bono representation in immigration courts that are already under stress.
In Indiana Lawyer, Faegre Baker Daniels partner Andrew Campbell, who has represented immigrants in asylum hearings on a pro bono basis, said that the children must be granted due legal process no matter what the outcome. "These children are entitled to due process and we as lawyers are in a unique position to ensure they receive a fair hearing on the merits of their case," Campbell said. "Even when they are not entitled to some relief, we should advocate to ensure they have a safe and orderly return to their home country."
While Campbell and scores of attorneys at Faegre Baker Daniels and other firms are taking on pro bono immigration cases, the cases are too numerous to assign a lawyer to each case, resulting in some of the children having to face a foreign court system without legal representation. "I think it already is and will continue to be more difficult to find attorneys able and available to represent all the kids that are coming and needing representation," said Faegre Baker Daniels associate Jacqueline Pimentel-Gannon.