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Centre of Migration Research

Access to Counsel for Asylum Seekers: A Perspective from the United States



Asylum seekers in the United States have no recognized right to government-appointed counsel. As a result, many asylum seekers are left to navigate the complex legal system alone. In this talk, I will address the consequences of lack of legal representation for those seeking protection in the United States, ranging from poor outcomes to serious questions about the fundamental fairness of proceedings. I will then discuss efforts that I have been involved in to facilitate access to counsel for particularly vulnerable groups, including those with serious mental disabilities, children, and people in immigration detention. I will close by reflecting on how current border policies, including the Title 42 “public health” order, have posed new challenges in access to counsel for people seeking refuge in the United States.