SEATTLE – US government lawyers urged a federal judge on Thursday to remove certain children listed in a lawsuit that seeks to require court-appointed lawyers for indigent children who enter the United States illegally.
But lawyers for the ACLU and immigration rights groups say any child sent to immigration court has a constitutional right to a fair hearing and the only way to ensure that happens is to provide them with a lawyer.
After a four-hour hearing, Judge Thomas Zilly said he would take the arguments under advisement and issue a ruling at a later date.
The children listed in the case range in age from 1 to 17 and came from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. They live in Washington state, California, Texas and Florida.
The government’s lawyer said the children who were captured at the border do not have the same due-process rights as someone who has lived in the country for a period of time. He asked Zilly to dismiss those children from the case. He also argued against giving the case class-action status.
But the ACLU lawyer argued that any child who faces deportation at a removal hearing has a constitutional right to counsel.