Refugees turn to self-representation at immigration hearings after losing Legal Aid

Refugees turn to self-representation at immigration hearings after losing Legal Aid

Provincial cuts to Legal Aid Ontario’s funding for immigration services are already forcing some asylum seekers to try to represent themselves or give up on their cases altogether, a local immigration lawyer says.

Source

Provincial cuts to Legal Aid Ontario’s funding for immigration services are already forcing some asylum seekers to try to represent themselves or give up on their cases altogether, a local immigration lawyer says.

London-based lawyer Michael Loebach says about one in four of his clients facing appeals after their cases have been rejected are not moving forward with legal representation because they can’t pay for it.

It is the most immediate fallout from a decision by the government of Premier Doug Ford to eliminate legal aid funding for refugee and immigration law services — a situation that will only get worse as new refugee claimants begin their cases, Loebach said.

Legal Aid Ontario is still covering the cost for cases it had already accepted before the cuts came into effect in mid-April.

The provincial government, however, continues to defend the move, arguing the federal government should shoulder the costs of such cases since immigration is a federal responsibility.