American Justice

Now doesn’t this make you proud to be an American:

Immigration Judge David Ayala is gentle in his questioning. His tone and manner are intended to put Alejandra at ease. But there is nothing easy or comforting about this proceeding. The US government is seeking to send her back to El Salvador.

Although she was led into the courtroom with nine other juveniles, she is effectively standing before the judge alone – without the benefit of a lawyer, a parent, or even a friend.

Alejandra is seven years old.

Yup, the US is making 7 year olds defend themselves in court. And it matters:

Since 2005 more than 203,000 children ages 17 and younger have appeared in US immigration court for removal proceedings. Of those, 87,614 did so without the guidance of a lawyer, according to data maintained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

Having the benefit of legal counsel during an immigration hearing can be critical; a child with representation is 6.5 times more likely to win his or her hearing. During the past five years, juveniles with lawyers won 85 percent of their cases in immigration court, while those without a lawyer lost 87 percent of their cases, according to an analysis of TRAC data.

The reason the lawyers win so often is that the children are coming from war-torn countries where their life is in danger–they are refugees and that gives them rights. Of course the people in the US have shown that they don’t care about child refugees and so the process has been made so most will be sent back. Many to die. As I said, it makes one proud to be an American.

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