In a rare move, a federal appeals court in San Francisco reheard a lawsuit Monday on whether children facing deportation have the right to a government-appointed attorney in immigration court.
The teenager at the center of the case, referred to in court documents by his initials C. J., fled Honduras at the age of 13 after a gang tried to recruit him at gunpoint, according to his attorneys. But his claim for asylum was subsequently rejected by a U.S. immigration court.
Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union contend that the teenager did not get a fair hearing because he could not afford an attorney and the government did not provide one.
Unlike in criminal court, neither children nor adults in immigration court are entitled to a government-provided attorney if they can’t otherwise afford to obtain one.
After a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals initially rejected C.J.’s claim for a lawyer earlier this year, the boy’s legal team requested a review of the arguments by a full panel of 11 judges.