Iowa Rep. Proposes Amendment to Halt $50 Million Program to Fund Lawyers for Immigrants

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Posted: Jul 16, 2021 4:05 PM

Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) looked to implement an amendment to put an end to a $50 million program that would use taxpayer money to pay for the lawyers who represent migrants who crossed the southern border. 

The amendment, however, was not passed by the House Appropriations Committee, according to Fox News.

The Commerce-Justice-Science Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Appropriations Bill created a $50 million pilot program that will "provide legal representation to immigrant children and families seeking asylum and other forms of legal protection in the United States."

Hinson said that the Immigration and Nationality Act would allow immigrants seeking asylum to be represented by a lawyer but that legal fees should not be the responsibility of the government. 

"The key difference between these programs is what this is about," she said. "This one applies to adult illegal immigrants seeking ‘other forms of legal protection.’ So when you look at who that would include and who would fall into that category that is where the concern is – those without credible fear claims or those who have criminal backgrounds."

 "This program is taxpayer funded lawyers for that subset of people," she continued.

Hinson's amendment would send the funds to programs that look to prosecute human traffickers, as well as help victims of sexual assault.

Hinson also discovered that the program was left out of the Department of Homeland Security markup session and requested to know the reason behind it being included in this markup instead.

Democrats opposed the amendment, saying that it provided due process to migrants and that funding their legal team reduced costs because it would lessen the need for detention centers.

"Whether an individual has legal counsel is one of the most decisive factors in determining whether they will be able to obtain legal relief in their removal  proceedings," Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) said. "The grant program this amendment would eliminate is a very small step to correcting the long standing disparity in people who have the ability to obtain counsel and those who do not."