Immigrant children lack legal representation, rights groups allege in lawsuit

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Border crisis Demonstration

Demonstrators march near the White House after a news conference of immigrant families and children’s advocates. Meanwhile, in Seattle, a coalition of immigrant rights groups is suing the federal government over the lack of legal representation for minors during deportation hearings. (The Associated Press)

SEATTLE — A coalition of immigrant rights advocacy groups is suing the federal government over the fact that few minors have legal representation during deportation proceedings.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Seattle on behalf of eight plaintiffs, all minors. The plaintiffs are from Mexico and Central America, and they range in age from 10 to 17.

At deportation hearings, immigrants must hire their own lawyers or find someone to represent them pro bono, while the federal government has attorneys arguing for them to leave the U.S.

The groups say as a result, thousands of immigrant children end up with no legal representation at deportation proceedings every year. And they say the issue could be compounded with the recent influx minors attempting to enter the country through the southern border.

The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security did not immediately comment.

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