Hour after hour, Roberto E. Ray Race-Perez explains their rights to the U.S. immigration system and listens to incidents of mass violence in their home countries or travel to the United States – hours after hours, practically meeting immigrant children in federal asylum visits Mexico. Boundaries.
“It’s not stopping,” he said. “It’s going on, every day, every week.”
South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Project Staff Attorney Reyes-Perez, or Texas-based law firm Harlingen Prober, is at the forefront of efforts to seek legal advice from immigrant children in the Border Floods and is better equipped to navigate the U.S. immigration system.
However, several other people in federal custody left without legal advice on behalf of the counselor who advised immigrant juveniles, advocates and attorneys said. 3-year-olds can be expected to explain why they are seeking asylum.
In recent weeks, federal officials have seen a steady increase in the number of immigrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, especially unmarried minors. A major challenge for the Beadon administration is to integrate all minors into federally run shelters and connect them to U.S.-based parents or relatives so that they can be released.
But administration officials face pressure from immigration workers to ensure that children are legally represented throughout the process. Over the past year, lawyers and advocates have used Zoom and other platforms to communicate with children detained at federal shelters since the COVID-19 restriction barred most visitors from the shelter. Advocates explain their rights and protections to minors and occasionally represent them in legal proceedings.
As the number of unmarried immigrants arriving at the border increases, it will become increasingly important for them to get legal services, especially as they are scattered across the United States, said Elisa Stiglich, co-director of the immigration clinic at the University of Texas Austin School of Law. .
Making sure immigrant children are assured of their rights
Federal agents encountered 9,457 unmarried minors at the border in February – almost doubling in January but still facing about 12,000 children in May 2019, the most recent high peak. To cater to minors, federal officials have reopened shelters in Donna and Carrizo Springs, Texas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is launching another facility for young people to stay, and the Dallas Convention Center is preparing to accommodate another 3,000 immigrants.
Under the Trafficking Victims Protection and Retirement Act of 2006, children who do not show up at the border are given specific protections, such as not being held in detention and initially telling their story to an asylum official in an informal format rather than immigration. If the judge shelter officer in the courtroom denies the minor’s claim, the child may later have to appear before an immigration judge.
Florence Chamberlain, an El Paso-based immigration attorney and head of a national program called Need of Defense for Children, went to the border shelter of Ciudad Juarez to explain their rights to underage minors and what happens if they cross? Enter the border and U.S. custody.
He gives a presentation known as “Know Your Rights” which explains how minors should be treated in shelters and how their case will progress through the federal system. He saw 17-year-old children a few months old. A teenager was expelled under the former administration of Donald Trump and was found sleeping in a cemetery near the Mexican border, he said.
Children express the trauma of their lives more than adults and it takes skilled legal professionals to assist them through the asylum process, Chamberlain said.
Unlike the U.S. Criminal Procedure Code, children do not receive government-appointed counsel in immigration courts, he said. Lawyers find them during court hearings or are contacted by relatives Contact Chamberlain says that if their asylum hearing fails, many in the courtroom struggle to understand legal concepts such as “removal procedures” and “suspended proceedings” for them that adults Chamberlain said he could hardly comprehend.
“It’s crucial that kids are represented,” he said. “If you explain the law to a child, they won’t understand the word ‘bullying’ … you have to break it down into the word they understand.