Steinberg staffers will represent immigrant kids

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s staff counsel will help provide free legal services to undocumented, unaccompanied children arriving in California from Central America.

Steinberg, D-Sacramento, announced Wednesday that his policy director, Anthony Williams, and his senior policy consultant, Margie Estrada, will take part in the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Legal Assistance Project, in conjunction with the American Immigration Lawyers Association Southern California Chapter.

“These children face a daunting immigration process in a foreign legal system without any legal representation. A kid is a kid, and should be shown compassion regardless of where they were born,” Steinberg said in a news release. “I’m exceptionally grateful to my team and all other volunteering attorneys for taking unpaid time away from their families to ensure that these children receive fair and due process.”

Steinberg noted that many if not most of these children don’t speak English or understand the U.S. legal system, yet some have been requested to appear in courts, sometimes in other states, with less than 48 hours of notice. Those who fail to appear risk deportation orders and a swift return to the violent regions from which they originally fled, he said.

Heather Poole, chair of AILA’s Southern California Chapter, wrote to an immigration court that the timeline reduces the children’s chance to find legal counsel and so compromises their due-process rights.

“These unaccompanied children are in desperate need of competent immigration representation to ensure that every child’s case is thoroughly vetted before an immigration judge before a swift removal takes place to a potentially dangerous place where their safety will be at risk,” she wrote. “Due to political pressure and directives, the immigration courts are now prioritizing these cases on the court’s docket, which has led to fast hearings and some with little notice for many children who remain unrepresented by counsel, having no funds or connections. It is important, more than ever, that we have volunteers from the legal community participate in this humanitarian crisis to ensure that justice is served.”

Steinberg earlier this month led other lawmakers on a fact-finding visit to El Salvador and Guatemala, where they met with national leaders to discuss the gang, drug and other conditions that have led to more than 57,000 minors arriving at the U.S. border since October 2013.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    I would supply services to them also.

    “Here’s the bus to the plane to fly you back to where you came from.”

    Vaya con Dios!

  • Willis James

    From Steinberg “Those who fail to appear risk deportation orders and a swift return to the violent regions from which they originally fled” he said.

    Since less than 1% of those undocumented residing inside the USA are deported in any one year, those children who fail to appear have almost nothing to fear. They are more likely to get hit by a car while playing in the street, than to be picked up and deported by ICE or the courts.

    Indeed, its no small wonder that over 50% fail to appear. Most of them are staying with other undocumented who have been here unhindered for years.

    They will be openly accepted by the schools and by many other health programs. Then with eventual immigration reform, nearly all of them will be allowed to stay.
    Steinberg knows the reality and is grandstanding.

  • JohnW

    There is a different point of view than the opinions expressed here. As one TV commentator put it this past Sunday, “My view is that we ought to say to these children, ‘Welcome to America. You’re going to go to school and get a job and become Americans’…The idea that we can’t assimilate these eight year old criminals and their teddy bears [commentator sarcasm] is preposterous.” George Will on Fox News.

  • Willis James

    I agree, there are differing points of view. I did hear George Will make those comments. I do expect that well over 50% of these “children” will remain in the USA. They, and their parents, made the right choice.

    To disregard the stated laws and to go with reality.

    Reality is that if you can get to the USA, you stand a 98% chance of staying for the rest of your life.

    I even support the complete acceptance that everyone here, will get to stay forever. I see little that will ever change that reality. (Except for a few hard criminals who will be deported, only to sneak back in a few months later)

    What I disagree with is the current make believe in Washington DC, and in the SF Bay Area, that the proposed senate immigration bill, will do anything to curb the majority of future illegal entry and illegal employment. If ever passed, the same pro-immigration forces will try to prevent any effective enforcement and the decades long illegal immigration flood will continue to the detriment of the lower income and lower educated American workers.

    They are the ones getting screwed by their own Democratic Party, as well as the Chamber of Commerce brigade, to include the Walmarts, the restaurants, the hotels, Facebook, and their band of H1B expansionists.

    The non-thinking ‘lock-step’ progressives in the SF Bay Area, are far more concerned about coalition building, than protecting lower income American citizens from economic hardship.

    Talk to the local 45 year old carpenter. Ask him how his life and employment has gone the past 20 years.

    The talk to our local legislators about his plight.

    The best they can do is to say they will fight for a higher minimum wage.

    Of course if that carpenter is part of a city, county, or state, public employee union, then they’ll do all they can to protect his income, pension and benefits.

    But those protected workers and the politicians who support them, care little about the rest of the lower income working citizens. They would rather appeal to “coalition” politics and cater to every group who wants more and virtually unlimited immigration with zero enforcement and no deportations of anyone short of a convicted felon.

    As to George Will’s comments.

    “The idea that we can’t assimilate these eight year old criminals and their teddy bears [commentator sarcasm] is preposterous.”

    The data release by the Govt. said that 13 to 17 years olds make up 84% of the “children”, with 16 and 17 year olds comprising half of that group.
    Those are young working men, well over the minimum age for working in their home countries.

    I ask again, my fellow Bay Area Democrats, who these young men will replace in the work force?
    Please tell me what the profile is of the young American citizen they will replace.

    No one ever answers that direct question. They make believe that unemployment among our own Bay Area young men is Zero percent.
    The reality is in the East Bay of young men age 18 to 28, that unemployment of those with a high school or less education is running about 15% and if you throw in those working part time, but wanting full time work, then the figure is close to 25%.

    Again, for any Bay Area “progressive” thinkers, who will these 16 and 17 year old young men from Central America, replace in the work force.
    (note… according to Pew Research, less than 5% of all undocumented workers are employed in agriculture)

    Please, I ask again, give me the profile of the typical young American worker these new illegal arrivals will replace.
    What does he look like? What ethnic background does he have? Is he lazy? Is he stupid and unable to perform the tasks of the job in question?
    Please give me your profile of that young man who won’t get a job, due to this latest influx of illegal arrivals?

    I await one brave East Bay Democrat to provide the answer. (NO local politician will do so) They just love to have some general hazy idea that it will all work out and that no one will be impacted in a negative way. Happy, happy, happy, everyone will just end up happy.