Democratic lawmakers propose lawyers for immigrant children

New York Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries speaks during a news conference in AlbanyBy Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic U.S. lawmakers announced legislation on Monday that would provide lawyers for thousands of undocumented minors streaming across the border into the United States, saying forcing children to face deportation proceedings alone goes against fundamental American values. “It is a fantasy to believe that they have a fair shot in immigration proceedings without counsel,” New York U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries told a news conference. Jeffries and the other House of Representatives Democrats introducing the bill said as many as 40 to 50 percent of the undocumented children would have legitimate claims to remain in the United States under current law, citing studies by the United Nations and other agencies. They also said their bill could save some $2 billion a year because timely immigration proceedings would eliminate the need to house thousands of children for months at a time.

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