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Fighting deportation with an attorney

To an American mother, the death threats from gang cartels would have been surreal; something from movies or dreams. To a Honduran mother, the threats were all too real and required her to act to protect her 10-year-old son. She bought bus tickets for herself and her two young children and fled in the night with one destination in mind: the U.S. border.

During a two-week bus ride through Mexico, she and her kids were taken hostage and ransomed by Mexican gangs. She gave up the last of her savings to buy freedom for the three of them. They finally made their way across the U.S. border, only to be taken into custody by the U.S. Border Patrol and then taken to a detention center.

According to a news report, the mom did not know much about the U.S. when she crossed the border, but she did know that it was important to get legal representation; a difficult task when you are being held in a detention center.

A report from New York's Syracuse University shows that in 70 percent of the deportation hearing cases involving migrant families, the hearings were conducted without legal representation for the detainees. The cases moved quickly through the so-called "rocket docket," with 43 percent being decided in 24 days or less.

The purpose of the expedited hearings: to "quickly return unlawful migrants to their home countries."

With little time to find an attorney, many families are hurried through the hearings and deported to the violent homes they had tried to escape.

Of course, the federal government has an attorney present at the hearings, stacking the odds even higher against detainees.

The Honduran mom found a lawyer who helped her prevail in her hearing. She said that without legal representation, she would have been deported and then "killed back home." Instead, she says, she and her family are here "and I am not scared anymore."

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