Immigration to the U.S.: Statistics highlight the need for an attorney

Immigrants that attempt to represent themselves in court without an attorney are drastically less likely to be successful than their represented counterparts.

Immigrants to the United States may enter the country for a number of reasons. Some seek refuge from war while others are simply looking forward to a better future. Whatever the reason for the move, those attempting to immigrate to the United States have a number of legal options. Visas, green cards and other paths to citizenship may all be considered, but in addition to determining the right legal path towards citizenship, it is also important for immigrants to be aware of the complex nature of the immigration process.

Legal counsel and immigration: Statistics

The immigration process is complex, and immigrants are not always guaranteed legal counsel. It is not uncommon for immigrants to be forced to present their case without an attorney. Reports by The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), an information outlet through Syracuse University focusing immigration activities of the federal government, support this finding. One of the more notable findings by TRAC Immigration involves deportation cases of woman and children. TRAC finds that only 1.5 percent of cases involving women and children who have established "credible fear" of returning to a country of origin are successful. Legislation is under consideration to address these cases, but women and children are not the only ones facing incredible odds.

The New York Immigrant Representation Study reviewed data from immigration court proceedings for removal of immigrants within New York spanning from October of 2005 to July of 2010. Based on this information, researchers with the study found 60 percent of detained immigrants and 27 percent of non-detained immigrations did not have legal counsel during their immigration proceeding. Immigrants facing these proceedings without legal representation have slim chances of success. According to this study, those without representation that were either released from detention or never detained faced a success rate of 13 percent. Those who attempted to represent themselves from detention faced even worse odds, with only 3 percent having a successful outcome.

Legal counsel and immigration: The role of an attorney

As outlined above, immigration attorneys play an important role for those who are facing removal proceedings. However, this is only one instance when an immigrant can benefit from an attorney. Additional situations include:

  • Employment. If immigrating to the United States for employment and the employer has not offered to provide services to assist in the immigration process, it may be wise to find your own legal representation.
  • Family. Those who wish to immigrate with their family are also wise to seek legal representation. An attorney can aid in better ensuring that a spouse and children are also admitted.
  • Failure. If you have attempted applications in the past and they have been denied, an attorney can aid in determining the reason for the denial and potentially help to remedy the issue.

These are just a few of the more common roles an attorney can play in immigration cases. Those facing immigration law issues are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced immigration attorney. This legal professional will review the details of your case and work to better ensure a more favorable outcome.