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What to Do for Immigrants and Clients in a Hostile Social Environment?

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 05, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A murderer, a drug dealer, a drunk driver -- a few of my least popular clients.

They were not accused; they were already convicted. But clients like that are practically dead men walking into the courtroom because of a prejudice against innocence.

Lawyers have to fight for unpopular clients more than ever. That's because the legal world can be a hostile place -- especially for immigrants in America today. 

"Build the Wall!"

After a jury found an illegal immigrant not guilty of murder, President Donald Trump called the verdict a "complete travesty of justice." He also used it for his campaign to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

"No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with illegal immigration," he tweeted. "The Kate Steinle killer came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent, and yet this info was not used in court. BUILD THE WALL!"

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also used the occasion to continue his attack on sanctuary cities. He blamed San Francisco for the murder, saying its "decision to protect illegal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle."

Meanwhile, the Trump administration announced it will end temporary protected status for tens of thousands of immigrants and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the President's latest travel ban. So welcome to America, you tired, poor and yearning to breathe free.

Public Perceptions

For immigrants, it seems that the bias begins at the border. It's a battle in the court of public opinion as much as in the courts.

Attorneys have an obligation to defend in every arena. In the courtroom, it's about protecting the client and the integrity of the justice system.

But in today's social environment, lawyers have to start that process outside the courtroom. It is hard to get an impartial jury from a biased public.

"Attorneys can sometimes also receive negative media attention for representing these unpopular clients, but the FindLaw Strategist blog has provided a few tips on how to overcome public bias, including crafting thoughtful, careful public statements and taking time to alleviate stress," says an Ohio public library.

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