Five Days of Action for Children in the Immigration System, Pt. 4
Immigrants in deportation proceedings are not guaranteed legal representation. Yet without representation, immigrants face a much greater chance of being deported. Unfortunately, our government expects children as young as 3 or 4 years of age to defend themselves in immigration courts alone, without a lawyer present. The immigrant court system essentially treats them as adults, with no obligation to do what is in the best interests of the child (the standard for criminal courts).
Children who represent themselves in immigration court are five times more likely to be deported. Of the 41,456 unaccompanied children apprehended by the border patrol in 2017, a great number of whom will be sent back to the danger they were attempting to flee.
While this situation existed before Trump, his administration is working hard to undermine the protection of children in our immigration system. Recently Trump has referred to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) as a “loophole.” Congress passed this law to ensure that children arriving at the border were not immediately sent back into a harmful situation. USCIS has stopped considering 19 to 21-year-olds for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which gives young people protection in cases of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Finally, Trump ended the Central American Minors (CAM) Program, under which 1,500 children from Central American countries were able to seek and gain asylum status while still in their own country.
ACTION: Tell Congress to Co-Sponsor the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act
Thank Rep. Jayapal for co-sponsoring the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2017 (H.R. 2043), which insures all children have legal representation in the immigration courts. Ask Rep. Smith to join her, and ask both of our senators to co-sponsor the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2018 (S. 2468). Neither have co-sponsored this bill.
Sen. Patty Murray--DC 202-224-2621; Seattle 206-553-5545
Sen. Maria Cantwell--DC 202-224-3441; Seattle 206-220-6400
Rep. Pramila Jayapal--DC 202-225-3106; Seattle 206-674-0040
Rep. Adam Smith--DC 202-225-8901; Renton 425-793-5180
Script for Rep. Jayapal:
“Hello, I’m [NAME} and I’m calling from [CITY]. I’d like to thank Rep. Jayapal for co-sponsoring the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act. It is unconscionable that children as young as three years old are expected to represent themselves in immigration court without the help of a lawyer. I am proud to have a Representative like Pramila Jayapal, who proactively works to help those who are often forgotten or wrongly maligned.”
Script for Rep. Smith and both Senators:
“Hello, I’m [NAME] and I’m calling from [CITY}. I’d like to request that [Representative] co-sponsor the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act. Immigrant children apprehended at the border are currently expected to represent themselves without a lawyer’s help, even if they are as young as 3 years old. This is an unconscionable lapse of justice that the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act would rectify.”
- “Can a 3-year old represent herself in immigration court? This judge thinks so.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/can-a-3-year-old-represent-herself-in-immigration-court-this-judge-thinks-so/2016/03/03/5be59a32-db25-11e5-925f-1d10062cc82d_story.html
- “Policy Brief: Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: Vulnerable Children Face Insurmountable Obstacles.” https://www.immigrantjustice.org/research-items/policy-brief-unaccompanied-immigrant-children-vulnerable-children-face
- “The TVPRA Is Not A Loophole.” https://supportkind.org/resources/tvpra-not-loophole/
- “Protecting defenseless children is not an immigration ‘loophole’.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/protecting-defenseless-children-is-not-an-immigration-loophole/2018/04/13/11bf9012-3e64-11e8-a7d1-e4efec6389f0_story.html
- “A Rule Is Changed for Young Immigrants, and Green Card Hopes Fade.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/18/nyregion/special-immigrant-juvenile-status-trump.html
- “U.S. program for Central American child refugees to end Thursday.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-minors/u-s-program-for-central-american-child-refugees-to-end-thursday-idUSKBN1D905C