Im­mi­gra­tion courts speed up chil­dren's cases

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

LOS AN­GE­LES (AP) — Im­mi­gra­tion courts are speed­ing up hear­ings for the tens of thou­sands of Cen­tral Amer­i­can chil­dren caught on the U.S. border af­ter crit­i­cism that the back­logged sys­tem is let­ting im­mi­grants stay in the coun­try for years while wait­ing for their cases to be heard.

There are 375,000 cases be­fore the im­mi­gra­tion courts, and many im­mi­grants wait months or years for a hear­ing. In­stead of bump­ing chil­dren to the back of that long line, the courts are now giv­ing each child an ini­tial court hear­ing within three weeks, ac­cord­ing to the Jus­tice De­part­ment's Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fice for Im­mi­gra­tion Re­view. A spokes­woman for the courts didn't an­swer ques­tions about how many chil­dren's hear­ings had been set un­der the new plan, or which courts had sched­uled ad­di­tional hear­ings.

Im­mi­gra­tion lawyers have long sought a speed­ier process to pre­vent im­mi­grants from hav­ing to wait years for an an­swer on their asy­lum or green card ap­pli­ca­tions. Now, the con­cern is the op­po­site: that the courts are mov­ing so quickly that the chil­dren might not have enough time to make a case that they should be al­lowed to re­main in the coun­try le­gally.

The big­gest worry is that chil­dren might not re­ceive proper no­tice of hear­ings, and could wind up get­ting a de­por­ta­tion order if they fail to show up, im­mi­gra­tion lawyers said. Ad­vo­cates also say there aren't enough pro-bono im­mi­gra­tion lawyers to go around and that it takes longer to pre­pare chil­dren's cases be­cause it takes time to earn their trust.

"When the hear­ing date is three months out, it's no big deal — it's plenty of time to get your­self a lawyer. When it's three weeks, that's nowhere near enough time," said Si­mon San­doval-Moshen­berg, an at­tor­ney with the Le­gal Aid Jus­tice Cen­ter in Falls Church, Vir­ginia.

(AP Photo/eric Gay, Pool, File)

FILE - This June 18, 2014, file photo, de­tainees sleep in a hold­ing cell at a U.S. Cus­toms and Border Pro­tec­tion, pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity in Brownsville,Texas. Im­mi­gra­tion courts back­logged by years of staffing short­ages and tougher en­force­ment face an even more daunt­ing chal­lenge since tens of thou­sands of Cen­tral Amer­i­cans be­gan ar­riv­ing on the U.S. border flee­ing vi­o­lence back home. For years, chil­dren from Cen­tral Amer­ica trav­el­ing alone and im­mi­grants who prove they have a cred­i­ble fear of re­turn­ing home have been en­ti­tled to a hear­ing be­fore an im­mi­gra­tion judge.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.