Amid a heated debate about immigration on the Mexican border, immigration attorneys say there’s a much wider crisis in legal representation across the country.
An ongoing study by Syracuse University tracks information about immigration court cases throughout the country. Aleksandr Troyb, chair of Connecticut’s chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, found the statistics on representation alarming.
“Of all cases in the Hartford immigration court, only 54 percent of people were represented. And if you just segregate the data for people that are detained, that number plummets to just 24 percent,” Troyb said. “So that basically says to you that anyone who is in detention who has been detained by immigration is overwhelmingly unlikely to have an attorney representing them in immigration court.”
Troyb attributed the lack of representation to a general lack of attorneys in the area, as well as a unique circumstance in Connecticut’s immigration court.
“We do have an immigration court in Hartford that handles all cases for Connecticut, but we don't really have detention facilities in Connecticut. So most folks detained in Connecticut are going to be taken to other states for their detention,” Troyb said.
AILA is attempting to send legal representatives and law students to detention sites where Connecticut detainees are held, as well as encouraging lawyers to take on more pro-bono immigration cases.