Our Stories

Statement on Ninth Circuit Ruling on Immigrant Children's Right to Counsel

May 3, 2019

Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on C.J.L.G. v. Barr, a lawsuit that addresses whether immigrant children facing deportation should have the right to a court-appointed attorney. The court found that our client, known as C.J., did not receive a fair hearing, and ordered a new hearing for him. However, the court declined to address the broader question of whether it is fair for unrepresented children to stand alone in front of an immigration judge, opposed by a federal prosecuting attorney.

“This is a great day for C.J., a child who was wrongly ordered removed despite his eligibility for protection,” said Talia Inlender, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney at Public Counsel. “However, we are heartbroken for the thousands of other children who will continue to be forced to appear alone in immigration court against trained prosecutors in life-or-death cases. By refusing to answer the question of whether children like C.J. have a right to counsel in their removal proceedings, the Ninth Circuit has left in place a system that is both unfair and unconstitutional.”

C.J. was only thirteen years old when he fled with his mother from his native country of Honduras after being threatened at gunpoint that he would be killed if he did not join the local gang. He and his mother were apprehended shortly after crossing the border and were placed in separate removal proceedings. An immigration judge denied C.J.’s application for asylum and ordered him deported after being forced to appear in court without an attorney.

More information on the case HERE

Read the Ruling HERE