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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Thursday, February 08, 2024

Fast-growing number of asylum-seekers face shortage of immigration lawyers, study finds

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — There is a shortage of immigration lawyers as the number of asylum-seekers coming across the Southwest border continues to increase monthly, a new study finds. The report, by Transactional Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of Syracuse University, says the number of immigrants not being represented by legal counsel in December was six times the amount it was in Fiscal Year 2019. In 2019, there were 363,000 migrants without legal counsel and 660,000 who had lawyers. But in December, the number without lawyers jumped to nearly 2.3 million with fewer than a million saying they have an immigration lawyer working on their case. FBI arrest Tennessee man who planned ‘sniper’ attack on Texas-Mexico border, docs show “More judges alone won’t be sufficient. There is another serious shortage: too few immigration attorneys,” the report says. The TRAC report also notes that the number of asylum-seekers has continued to increase and the number of immigration cases in December has tripled from 2019. The number of available immigration lawyers, however, has not kept up with this pace of immigration. “While there are many barriers to immigrants finding representation, a shortage of available attorneys is a key constraint on why representation rates have plummeted from 65 percent down to 30 percent,” the report says. (TRAC Graphic) In 2019, 65% of asylum-seekers had found an attorney to represent them in an immigration removal proceeding. But by December of last year, that number had dropped to 30%, the report found. During that time, the backlog of pending immigration cases increased more than three-fold to over 3.2 million cases — the highest in history, according to TRAC. “This also means that three times as many immigrants need attorneys,” the report says. “However, while the total number of immigrants with representation has increased, those who have found attorneys has only grown by 50 percent.” In late 2022, the American Bar Association reported that enrollment in law schools had plummeted by double digits that fall. In January 2022, the ABA put out a call for pro bono lawyers services to help with the increasing immigration caseload. Priscilla Orta is a supervising attorney with the nonprofit Lawyers For Good Government, which offers pro bono legal services to asylum-seekers. She says enticing lawyers to go down the immigration law path is tough, it’s even tougher if there are fewer out there. “It’s a perfect storm. More people aren’t going to law school. More people are coming. It’s very difficult to be an immigration lawyer, not just financially but emotionally. And those of us who are still in the business, we do not have the funding we need to help more people. We can help many more people but we need more support,” Orta told Border Report on Wednesday. Orta is based in Brownsville, Texas, where thousands of migrants came across from Mexico just before Title 42 was lifted in May. That was a public health order put in place by the Trump administration that prevented migrants from seeking asylum to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Migrants on April 25, 2023, are waiting for processing after crossing the Rio Grande into Brownsville, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo) She says that when President Joe Biden took office, nonprofits that help asylum-seekers noticed a significant drop in donations because there was a general perception that the Biden administration would be more helpful to migrants. But with so many more coming across the Rio Grande every day, she says they need more bilingual immigration lawyers. The bottom line is that immigration cases could be compromised without proper legal representation, she said. “We know that a person who has legal assistance has an exponentially higher chance of winning asylum,” she said. Report: Many asylum-seeking migrants not getting lawyers once put in ‘Rocket Docket’ Another previous study by TRAC found that asylum-seekers who have lawyers received better outcomes on their cases. Priscilla Orta is the supervising attorney for Project Corazon, which is part of Lawyers for Good Government. “It means that after all the suffering these people have endured, they’re still not going to get the justice they deserve,” Orta said. Some states have far higher representation rates of immigration lawyers, including Hawaii, California and New York. But others, like Texas, and Florida and Colorado — where thousands of asylum-seekers have been bused to by Texas’ Operation Lone Star — have the lowest representation rates, according to TRAC. Visit the BorderReport.com homepage for the latest exclusive stories and breaking news about issues along the U.S.-Mexico border The states with the highest immigration backlog cases include Florida, Texas, California, and New York. For more information, visit us at https://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/.

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