According to an immigration plan released by the White House last week, President Joe Biden wants Congress to allocate $15 million to cover the costs of private lawyers for “families and vulnerable individuals.”
He also wants another $23 million for a legal orientation program to help migrant families.
However, this sum is not enough to cover the hundreds of thousands of immigrants filing asylum claims every year, according to the Heritage Foundation.
Immigration lawyers can charge anywhere from $2,000 per person to $10,000 per person, the nonprofit said.
This is the first time the federal government has proposed providing this service to illegal immigrants.
“They talk about providing legal representation to families and vulnerable individuals,” Andrew Arthur, a former federal immigration judge from the York Immigration Court in Pennsylvania, told the Washington Examiner. “We don’t really know what that consists of, but it could be just families. It could be just women with children. I don’t know. The language is so vague — it’s problematic.”
Heritage senior fellow for homeland security Lora Ries predicted the move would be overturned in court because of a clause in the Immigration Nationality Act that bars the federal government from spending its own money on legal representation in immigration proceedings.
“The idea that we would provide to aliens [representation] that we don’t provide to citizens is exceptional in and of itself,” said Ries. “It’s making removable aliens better off than U.S. citizens.”
To ease the flow of migrant families crossing the border, Biden recently reinstated a Trump era policy that allows border officials to fast-track deportations of migrant families who do not qualify for asylum.
Under this policy, asylum officers to have full authority to rule on asylum claims for migrants crossing the border, which would allow immigration officials to determine how serious asylum claims are without having to wait for the backlogged immigration courts.