Should undocumented immigrants have the same legal rights as citizens?
via AP

Should undocumented immigrants have the same legal rights as citizens?

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A U.S. court recently ruled that immigrant children are not entitled to a court-appointed lawyer. John Oliver pointed out how ridiculous it is to expect children as young as five to represent themselves in court with a hilarious segment on "Last Week Tonight." But the judge in the ruling argued "neither the Due Process Clause nor the Immigration & Nationality Act" give undocumented minors the right to a lawyer. Should undocumented immigrants have the same legal rights as citizens?

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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year that immigrant minors do not have a right to a court-appointed attorney, forcing children as young as five to represent themselves if they are unable to afford legal counsel. The court argued undocumented immigrants are not entitled to a government-funded, court-appointed attorney, and denying them this right did not violate the Due Process Clause or the Immigration & Nationality Act.

The panel held that it is not established law that alien minors are categorically entitled to government-funded, court-appointed counsel and, applying the three-part test set forth in Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976), held that C.J. had not shown a necessity for such counsel to safeguard his due process right to a full and fair hearing.

While the ruling has drawn criticism from many civil rights groups like the ACLU, the court maintains Congress has not legislated to guarantee undocumented minors have a right to legal representation in deportation court.

John Oliver dedicated a "Last Week Tonight" segment to the ridiculousness of children having to represent themselves in court. Nobody should have to represent themselves in a court of law, and especially not children. Given the importance of immigration court and the potential consequences, everyoneincluding noncitizensshould have a right to a court-appointed attorney if they cannot afford to find their own legal counsel.

"There are around sixty of them all over the country, and hundreds of thousands of people go through them every year, pleading their case against deportation. They are hugely consequential, and the stakes in these cases can be incredibly high... In essence, we're doing death penalty cases in a traffic court setting."

Watch the full segment below:

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