Immigrants Represented by Counsel Have More Successful Outcomes


A study of access to legal counsel in U.S. immigration courts looked at deportation cases nationwide from 2007 to 2012 (over 1.2 million cases total).

The study finds access to counsel is “scarce” – for example, only 37% of all immigrants had an attorney for removal cases. Rates of legal representation vary by geographic region and city size. 

Despite the low percentage of immigrants represented by counsel, immigrants that are represented by counsel have more successful outcomes. For example, of those granted relief in removal proceedings, only two percent succeeded without an attorney.


Deportation is considered a civil, not criminal, proceeding. Thus, the criminal justice system’s constitutional guarantee of an attorney – and appointment of one for poor people – does not apply to immigration cases.  But an immigrant facing deportation, without counsel, is at a disadvantage to receive a fair hearing.

Full report available here:

Johnson Knudson’s attorneys will help you navigate the complex immigration laws and processes. Contact our office today.