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Immigrants may face an uneven legal playing field

Many immigrants who travel to the United States do so with the intention of staying on a long-term or permanent basis. Illinois was among five states with the largest immigration growth over a recent period, with MigrationPolicy.org reporting the state’s immigrant population grew by 577,000 between 1990 and 2000, and that immigrants now account for roughly 26 percent of the U.S. population. However, a new analysis indicates that not all immigrants hoping to avoid deportation face an even playing field.

Per The Guardian, the new analysis indicates that a key factor in whether an immigrant or migrant facing deportation is ultimately able to successfully fight the action is whether he or she can secure legal representation.  Of the more than 38,000 migrant-family immigration cases reviewed in the analysis, only about 30 percent involved attorneys.   

Furthermore, the analysis showed that 70 percent of those with attorneys were able to furnish the paperwork needed to apply for relief or otherwise fight deportation, while only one in 15 unrepresented families could do the same. In addition to enhancing an immigrant’s chances of being able to secure appropriate documentation, the presence of an attorney was also shown to have a considerable effect on the amount of time he or she remained in the court system.

Represented immigrant families ended up spending about 226 more days in the courts, on average, than those who were not represented by lawyers, and only 4 percent of families with representation were deported at their first court hearings. Meanwhile, more than 43 percent of those without attorneys present were promptly sent back to their countries of origin at their initial hearings. 

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