Efforts are underway to train lawyers in Mississippi how to do pro bono defense work for immigrant families seeking asylum. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order yesterday reversing a federal policy that separated more than 2,000 children from their families over a six week period.
"So we're keeping families together and this will solve that problem. At the same time, we are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero-tolerance," said Trump.
Amelia McGowan is an immigration attorney with Catholic Charities in Jackson. She says some families could migrate to Mississippi until they find out whether they will be removed from the country. The only concern, she says, is their access to free legal representation.
"Because once they are released, they still face removal proceeding. These are extremely daunting proceedings and unlike criminal proceedings, for example, immigrants aren't guaranteed a right to government-provided counsel. So the need is tremendous and the stakes are high," said McGowan
McGowan says her group wants to train lawyers from all legal backgrounds how to handle an immigration case. She says so far, 30 lawyers statewide have signed up for training.
"The necessity to have other attorneys, private attorneys who can be that pro bono counsel is tremendous because we don't have the capacity currently to handle all the asylum needs," said McGowan.
Republican U.S. Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi recently cosponsored the "Protect Kids and Parents Act," which was introduced by Texas Republican Ted Cruz. In a statement Wicker says, the bill would keep families together and address the backlog of asylum cases.
Ashley Norwood, MPB News.