President Barack Obama is asking Congress to provide free lawyers to the illegal immigrants surging across the U.S. border from Central America.
The request for $18 million of free legal services, which White House officials describe as an emergency, is included in White House request to Congress for $3.7 billion.
Most of those funds are needed to process, care for and feed the growing flow of immigrants, which is already at 100,000 since last October, says the administration.
If the GOP funds the request for lawyers, they will help many of the illegals win green cards, which will allow them permanent access to the nation’s generous social and welfare programs, including Obamacare.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner declined to comment on the request for lawyers.
The request for lawyers matches the administration’s claim that border-crossers have a right to ask judges for asylum and residency.
The illegals are “entitled” to due process in the courts, spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday. “I know that’s a priority of the president,” he said.
Under normal practice, most border-crossers are sent home without any chance to get into a courtroom.
Also, the federal government does not provide free immigration-lawyers to illegals.
A 2008 law allows the federal government to fund lawyers for foreign children and youths seeking asylum, but does not say it is a right.
The White House’s $18 million request comes a month after Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would provide $2 million in grants to fund lawyers for the illegals.
Holder’s $2 million will pay for 100 lawyers and legal aides.
The $18 million request could fund several hundred lawyers for some of the 50,000 children or youths that have arrived since October at the border without parents.
Many were delivered to the border by coyotes hired by parents living illegally in the United States. After they get to the border, the kids and youths are picked up and delivered to their parents by federal agencies.
The migrant inflow also includes at least 39,000 people arriving in “family units,” according to government officials. Those families consist of mothers and several children.