A new report from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York details a troubling finding: Of the immigrants being represented by attorneys in deportation proceedings, a large percentage aren't getting what even judges consider adequate representation.
Titled "Accessing Justice," the study from the law school at Yeshiva University in Manhattan takes in immigration cases in New York, with input from the judges who hear these cases. From a New York Times story:
Immigrants received “inadequate” legal assistance in 33 percent of the cases between mid-2010 and mid-2011 and “grossly inadequate” assistance in 14 percent of the cases, the judges said.
They gave private lawyers the lowest grades, while generally awarding higher marks to pro bono counsel and those from nonprofit organizations and law school clinics.
While only New York cases were examined, the study's implications apply to the immigration caseload in similarly large cities like Los Angeles, where immigrants are subject to predatory representation not only from unscrupulous attorneys who may not have the necessary background, but from unqualified non-lawyer notaries. From the report introduction:
Compounding the lack of legal entitlement to appointed counsel are the distinctive characteristics of the population facing removal: a relative lack of familiarity with the legal system; lack of financial resources; language barriers; and general susceptibility to unscrupulous lawyers. In addition, immigrant representation, to date, has not been considered to be within the mandate of the various governmental and institutional actors that would otherwise be responsible for providing indigent civil legal services. As such, we now find ourselves in a place where no sizeable entity - government or otherwise - views providing or funding removal-defense services as its primary responsibility.
The entire report can be viewed here.