In Court Without a Lawyer: The Consequences of Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Plan

Even if a migrant can afford to pay, finding a lawyer willing to take the case of a client living in Mexico is a challenge. In San Diego, the two legal aid organizations accepting clients in Tijuana are overwhelmed.

News Story (California, NATIONAL)

Miriam Jordan
New York Times (NYT)
August 3, 2019

Tags: Immigration Process

Organizations mentioned/involved: Immigrant Defenders Law Center (Los Angeles)


The program is proving disastrously difficult for many asylum seekers, who show up for critical court hearings like the ones in San Diego with no legal representation and little understanding of what is needed to successfully present a case. Some have not even been informed of when their cases would be heard, or were given the wrong date or the wrong courthouse.

According to a new analysis of immigration court data by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, 1,155 cases under the so-called migrant protection protocols, often known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, had been decided by the end of June. Only 14 of these petitioners — 1.2 percent — had legal representation. Out of 12,997 cases still pending, 163 were filed with the aid of a lawyer, or 1.3 percent.