Court: Immigrants Suffer Bad Lawyers – AP

Immigration law is very complicated and the use of a lawyer is necessary for many people. So it’s disturbing to read that some of these lawyers are dropping the ball. I’d like to think that an immigration lawyer was compassionate about their job, but I guess this just won’t be true for everyone.

Court: Immigrants Suffer Bad Lawyers – AP
February 21, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — Immigrants seeking legal status in the United States are being victimized with disturbing frequency by lousy lawyers, a federal appeals panel said Wednesday.

After criticizing the work done and not done by defense lawyers, the three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan took aim at the government, scolding its lawyers for quibbling over irrelevant language in one case in a quest to win.


2 thoughts on “Court: Immigrants Suffer Bad Lawyers – AP”

  1. A few points, as an immigration lawyer:

    (1) The current system harshly penalizes immigrants for minor crimes or even simple mistakes like the one described in the article (man misses hearing due to error by paralegal, gets locked up for 9 months and put in deportation proceedings). Also, immigrants have very little power vis-a-vis their lawyers–they have very little power vis-a-vis anybody, since they are denied legal personage. A lawyer who screws up a case doesn’t have to worry about being sued by his client (undocumented clients rarely try to navigate the civil law system, or can’t afford it, or are afraid the attorney will just call ICE on them, which they may well do), and almost never will face consequences for bad representation. These two factors together make stories like the one in the article very common.

    (2) That said, immigration law is not a prestigious or lucrative area of law relative to other legal fields. Affordable quality legal representation is in especially short supply, leaving many undocumented immigrants with little choice but to go to notarios or scam artist attorneys. Leading me to my third comment …

    (3) Speaking from my personal experience as a nonprofit immigration attorney in the metro NYC area, there is no shortage of ethically challenged immigration attorneys who will rip off the most vulnerable segment of the population without compunction. Often these attorneys are of the same nationality as their clients, who feel they can trust someone who speaks their language and seems to have navigated the system successfully. Knowing that these people exist makes me want to believe in an afterlife where they will roast in the fiery depths …

    So I encourage you to imagine the most unfair, morally degrading system possible for providing legal representation to immigrants, then try to understand that the reality is actually much worse than that …

  2. Yave,

    Thanks for the comments. It truly helps to get the perspective of someone in the field. Especially someone such as yourself doing so much to help.

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