Nonetheless, that was the situation during a recent court hearing for a child represented by the Immigrant Defenders Law Center in Los Angeles…
Court hearings are beginning for the 2,000 or more children who have been separated from their parents under the federal policy of “zero tolerance” for illegal border crossings, the Tribune says. And those notices are highlighting the fact that unaccompanied minors don’t get court-appointed attorneys in immigration court—meaning that most of them won’t have any lawyer at all.
That situation is not new, as the Tribune notes. By federal law, nobody gets a public defender in immigration court, because being removable from the United States is not a crime. That’s true even if the immigrant is a young child, despite immigrant advocates’ efforts to change that. As a result, minors separated from their parents must either find a lawyer on their own or represent themselves.
That’s an extraordinarily difficult task, advocates for the children say. Typically, parents seeking asylum—as the vast majority of the people subject to the “zero tolerance” policy are—are tried with any children they entered with, and therefore can explain the circumstances that led them to flee their home countries. Those facts often concern physical and sexual violence, because the Central American countries from which the immigrants come are effectively controlled by criminal gangs.
As a result, Toczylowski says, the parents often have kept the facts from children too young to understand them. This puts the children “in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves,” she told the Texas Tribune.” (A)
“Unaccompanied immigrant children face many challenges navigating the immigration system alone, including:
No right to court-appointed counsel. Unless they can afford attorneys or secure pro bono counsel, they appear in court without legal representation.
A confusing and complex court system. Deportation proceedings against children often begin in the jurisdiction where the child is placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Once a child is released from an ORR shelter to a sponsor or to foster care, it is the child’s responsibility – regardless of age or legal representation – to submit paperwork to inform the court that he or she has moved and to file a formal motion to change venue if the new address is under the jurisdiction of a different court. If a child does not properly update his or her address, he or she could be ordered deported in absentia for failing to appear in court.” (B)
:As many as 3,000 migrant children remain in government custody after being separated from their parents at the border, more than a week after a court ordered the Trump administration to reunite families, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday.
The Trump administration is currently in the process of reuniting families, in part by using DNA tests to confirm whether they are related. But the government has yet to return children to their parents in immigration custody, Azar said. He said the administration will meet the order to reunite families.
That means the families split up under President Donald Trump are only being reunited if the parent agrees to deportation or if the child was released to another relative in the U.S.
The Trump administration began a zero tolerance policy earlier this year to prosecute as many illegal border crossings as possible. That has included detaining parents separately from their children while they undergo brief criminal proceedings.
About 100 children under the age of 5 have been identified as potentially separated from parents, out of a total of as many as 3,000 kids, Azar said.
Azar said the administration will use “every minute of every day” to confirm the parentage of children and to make sure they have a suitable caretaker. He said the court order limits the government’s ability to do its typical screening process.” (C)
“Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday that officials are racing against a federal judge’s “extreme” deadlines to reunite “under 3,000” migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S. border.
Azar did not provide a precise number of children who have been separated from their parents under the Trump administration, but he said hundreds of government employees are working to verify that information, including through DNA testing. The children are being held in shelters overseen by HHS. Their parents are in federal immigration jails.
Azar signaled that, once reunited, the families will likely remain together in the Department of Homeland Security’s custody to await asylum interviews or deportation hearings.” (D)
“Immigration advocates on Thursday criticized the Trump administration’s plan to conduct genetic testing on migrant children and parents separated as a result of its “zero tolerance” policy, saying the move is invasive and raises concerns over what the government might do with the biological data.
The federal government will be conducting the DNA tests — via a cheek swab — for every detained migrant child and then seeing if the DNA matches that of their purported parents, Cmdr. Jonathan White, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said Thursday morning.
The move to collect DNA also raises serious concerns about consent for the children involved, said Jennifer Falcon, communications director for the immigrants rights group RAICES. “They’re essentially solving one civil rights issue with another — it’s a gross violation of human rights,” she said. “These are minors with no legal guardian to be able to advice on their legal right, not to mention they’re so young how can they consent to their personal information being used in this way?” “…
“To apply it categorically to an entire population of people who have been separated by the government — that is a new addition to what the Trump administration is doing to immigration law enforcement,” (E)
(A) Immigrant children begin appearing in court without lawyers or parents, by Lorelei Laird, https://edwardkundahlsite.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/immigrant-children-begin-appearing-in-court-without-lawyers-or-parents/
(B) Unaccompanied Immigrant Children, http://www.immigrantjustice.org/issues/unaccompanied-immigrant-children
(C) (C)As Many As 3,000 Migrant Kids Haven’t Been Reunited With Parents, Elise Foley, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/as-many-as-3000-migrant-kids-havent-been-reunited-with-parents/ar-AAzDgYJ
(D) HHS Secretary says Trump administration rushing to reunite separated migrant families, by Maria Sacchetti, https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/HHS-secretary-says-Trump-administration-rushing-13051774.php
(E) DNA tests for separated families slammed by immigration advocates, by Daniella Silva, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/dna-tests-for-separated-families-slammed-by-immigration-advocates/ar-AAzDCkx