Immigration: 7,000 Latin American Children to Be Deported Without Court Appearance
Over 7,000 immigrant children in the United States have been ordered to be deported without appearing in court, Los Angeles Times reports.
Minors from Central America crossed the U.S. border without documentation in 2013 to escape home countries plagued with gang violence and murder, mostly in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Many of those minors were never notified of the hearing date because of issues with the immigration court system, immigrant advocates say.
Attorneys say many of the court notices sometimes arrived late or not at all or were sent to the wrong addresses.
"What was a border crisis has now become a due process crisis," said Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, an advocacy group.
Kid in Need of Defense asks that the government re-open cases in which deportations were ordered and temporarily stop issuing removal orders when a child does not appear in court.
"Our system is far from foolproof," said Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.
"It's a difficult situation to try to know what percentage of those cases are innocent errors and lack of understanding, and which percentage of people who do not appear are consciously trying to avoid the process."
One of the letters sent to the government from a Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service attorney said at one point last year, only one of her 13 clients had received a notice to appear before their first hearings.
Meanwhile, a House panel on Wednesday approved a bill that would speed up the return of fleeing Central America to their native countries, USA Today reports.
The bill, voted 17 to 13, aims to stop a repeat of the border crisis that reported over 68,000 unaccompanied children crossed the Southwest border into Texas.
Critics say the bill is meant to send children back to face drug and gang violence while republicans are hoping that the bill will send a message to parents in Central America not to send their children to the U.S.
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