The Latin American Association calls on President Obama to end accelerated deportation procedures that place unaccompanied Central American children at risk.
Procedures to accelerate deportations for newly arrived Central American children are being implemented nationwide and are part of the President’s strategy to expedite cases involving child migrants and to help stem the flow of migrant children across the US southern border. The President intends for unaccompanied minors to appear before an immigration judge within 21 days of placement into deportation proceedings.
The Latin American Association has been serving Latinos since 1972, and our Immigration Services Department has served hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children in the past two years. We have seen, firsthand, the debilitating emotional effects of the violent circumstances they have fled. Based on our experience, we believe that expedited deportation procedures:
- Violate our legal obligations: U.S. law not only requires that unaccompanied Central American migrant children have their cases reviewed by an immigration judge, but also that such children have, to the extent practicable, access to counsel and that the child’s best interests are considered in decision making. Due to high demand, attorneys are in short supply. Accelerating deportations will only deprive children of counsel and lead to decisions that reflect the government’s interests.
- Foster injustice: Studies have shown that more than half of the children who have arrived from Central America would qualify for some form of relief. Accelerated deportation proceedings decrease the likelihood that their claims can be carefully reviewed and that children will have representation to help them tell their story.
- Decrease court efficiency: Attorneys filter out frivolous claims, helping ensure that the court does not waste its time on cases where there are no grounds for relief. Because expedited hearings reduce the likelihood that children will have counsel, the court will waste its time on unmeritorious cases. In addition, expedited hearings may cause hasty decisions, laying the groundwork for time-consuming appeals.
Ultimately, only comprehensive immigration reform will provide clear guidance and adequate processes for our immigration needs. A long-term solution will require an updated immigration system.
How you can help
- Contact the President and urge him to end accelerated deportation procedures.
- Contact your congressperson and urge them to pass comprehensive immigration reform.