Public Statement on Federal Policy to Limit Migration by Separating Families

You are here

Release Date: 
Monday, June 25, 2018

The recent federal policy to limit migration to the United States by separating families has led to a legal and humanitarian crisis resulting in more than 2,300 children being removed from their parents in a little less than two months.  The crisis has been made worse by the lack of access to counsel, which is a longstanding issue in immigration and detention proceedings. Civil legal aid, public defense and pro bono advocates have been on the frontlines for years representing unaccompanied children to ensure their welfare. The scale of this current crisis has made the availability of representation even more critical to ensuring that families are reunited. 

NLADA is proud to be part of the equal justice community that has stepped up to provide access to justice for these families. Civil legal aid and public defense attorneys not only serve as counsel in complex immigration and criminal legal proceedings, but also serve as emissaries of their clients working to identify separated family members and negotiate even brief family phone calls. Despite facing roadblocks seemingly at every turn – public defenders are denied access to their clients and disadvantaged by the lack of resources to respond to the increase in resources granted to prosecutors, and civil legal aid attorneys’ pleas for information on children’s whereabouts are ignored – these advocates persevere.

NLADA stands together in the fight to ensure access to counsel regardless of how much money someone has or where they come from. Legal representation for these families by civil legal aid, public defenders and pro bono attorneys is critical. The trauma these parents and children face and the impossible situation in which they find themselves is unimaginable. The only thing worse than having to face such dire circumstances would be to face them alone.

Unfortunately, attorneys at the border cannot promise reunification of children with their parents, but they are showing that there will be someone fighting for these families at every turn – as ardent advocates for both legal rights and basic human welfare. As more and more Americans join the call to ensure access to counsel, we know there is hope for these families. This country promises justice for all. NLADA stands ready to support our members and partners on the ground to ensure this truly means everyone.