Right to Appointed Counsel for Children in Immigration Proceedings
F.L.B. v. Lynch (J.E.F.M. v. Holder), No. 2:14-cv-01026 (W.D. Wash. filed July 9, 2014)
On July 9, 2014, the American Immigration Council, with co-counsel American Civil Liberties Union, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP, filed a lawsuit seeking recognition of a right to appointed counsel for unrepresented children in immigration proceedings nationwide. Named Plaintiffs in the case, children as young as one year old, are scheduled to appear in immigration court without any legal representation.
The complaint charges the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Executive Office for Immigration Review, and Office of Refugee Resettlement with violating the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions requiring a “full and fair hearing” before an immigration judge. It seeks to require the government to provide unrepresented children who are unable to pay for attorneys with legal representation in their immigration proceedings.
On September 20, 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled on cross interlocutory appeals that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington lacked jurisdiction on both the constitutional and statutory claims. The U.S. District Court for the Western District has stayed the upcoming trial before its court pending appeal of the Ninth Circuit’s decision.
On December 5, 2016, Plaintiffs-Appellees filed a petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc with the Ninth Circuit Court. The American Bar Association, former federal immigration judges, and law professors Hiroshi Motomura, Adam Cox, Jonathan Hafetz and Stephen Vladeck filed amicus briefs in support of the petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc.