As recently reported in LatinPost.com -The Department of Justice issued a $1.8 million grant to help expedite the immigration court process The immigration court system has encountered a record backlog of cases of over 400,000 cases as of August, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder commented on the $1.8 million grant noting the “most pressing” domestic challenge in the U.S. is the number of unaccompanied, undocumented minors crossing the southern U.S. / Mexico border.
According to a DOJ statement, AmeriCorps, which is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), will manage the $1.8 million grant and will disburse funds to legal aid organizations to hire nearly 100 lawyers and paralegals to “increase the effective and efficient adjudication of immigration proceedings”.
“In the meantime — within America’s borders — the increasing numbers of unaccompanied children appearing in our immigration courts present an urgent challenge: how to conduct immigration proceedings in an efficient manner while any claims for relief are presented as clearly as possible,” Holder said.
He continued by stating: “One way to address that challenge is to facilitate access to legal representation for these children. Though these children may not have a Constitutional right to a lawyer, we have policy reasons and a moral obligation to ensure the presence of counsel.”
According to Holder, the $1.8 million will be awarded to legal aid organizations in over 15 U.S. cities. He noted the justice AmeriCorps members will also help identify if immigrant children were human trafficking or abuse victims.
CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer said in a statement: “Young immigrant children often enter the U.S. after a long and dangerous journey. This funding will enable organizations to engage AmeriCorps members in providing critical support for these children, many of whom are escaping abuse, persecution, or violence. As a result of this partnership, AmeriCorps will play a role in improving the effective and efficient adjudication of these very difficult cases.”
Holder said the initiative will also empower new generations of aspiring lawyers and paralegals to serve their country and provide legal aid.
“Most importantly, it will bring our system closer to our highest ideals — because the way we treat those in need, and particularly young people who may be fleeing from abuse, persecution and violence, goes to the core of who we are as a nation,” said Holder at a recent address to the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA).
We will report more on this and other related immigration stories as the information becomes available.
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