Author: Emma Buckhout
You know a three-year-old child should not be expected to stand up alone in front of a judge and plead his or her case. Much less a traumatized child who has fled spiraling violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, or Mexico to seek protection at the U.S. border. However, a U.S. judge recently claimed otherwise, asserting that he has taught immigration law to 3- and 4-year old children. We know this is absurd, and child psychology and legal experts have been quick to say the same, but some of our policymakers still disagree. Current U.S. law does not guarantee access to counsel in deportation hearings, even for children.
This is unacceptable. Tell your members of Congress to stand up for due process and protection for children fleeing violence today>>
Congress can take a crucial step forward by supporting the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act, introduced in the Senate as S. 2540 by Senator Reid (D-NV) and in the House as H.R. 4646 by Representative Lofgren (CA-19). The bill would ensure access to counsel, legal orientation programs, and post-release services for children and other vulnerable individuals while they are in immigration court proceedings.
Access to legal representation makes a huge difference. An overwhelming majority of children without attorneys are ordered deported, but, when children are represented with an attorney, they are five times more likely to be granted protection.
As Senator Reid said, “Given the life-and-death consequences of deportation to this region, we must ensure that we are not putting asylum-seeking women and children in harm’s way….The humanitarian crisis at our doorstep demands that we, as Americans, affirm our fundamental values of protection and due process.”
Also, tweet at your Senators and Representatives and your network to spread the word.
Here’s a sample tweet: “.@Senator / Representative Kids can’t represent themselves alone in court. Protect kids by supporting the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act! #not1more”
ex: .@SenJohnMcCain Kids can’t represent themselves alone in court. Protect kids by supporting the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act! #not1more
ex: .@SpeakerRyan Kids can’t represent themselves alone in court. Protect kids by supporting the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act! #not1more
Thank you for speaking out for human rights!