Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers: Children in Immigration Court

A lawsuit filed by the ACLU and immigration-rights organizations highlights the need for immigrant children to be appointed lawyers. This is especially true in cases where it is to be decided whether the children are allowed to remain in the United States or face deportation. Children featured in the lawsuit range from the ages of one to 17 and hail from Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and El Salvador.

Lawyers for the ACLU and other groups state that the children, unless provided with an attorney, will not be given the constitutional right to a fair trial. The government holds thousands of proceedings every year against children, wherein prosecutors question children having very minimal or no knowledge of the law and their rights.

On March 24, 2016, a hearing lasting four hours was held, presided over by Judge Thomas Zilly. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Leon Fresco, the prosecutor, explained to Zilly that six of the children in the lawsuit, featuring close to a dozen, should be dropped from the suit. This is due to the children being detained at the border and therefore not having the same due process rights as an individual that has been in the country longer. While they have basic due process rights, such as rights against torture and being detained indefinitely, the ACLU and other groups are calling for additional procedural rights.

Fresco argues that additional rights are not warranted and that if Zilly were to rule in favor of the immigrants, it would be the first time that immigrants stopped at the border would have additional rights other than those designated by Congress. A child coming to America illegally does not have substantive rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Matt Adams, of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, argues that immigration court is the only situation in which a child could be forced to answer questions posed by a prosecutor. Adams also went on to question the allowance of such questioning.

Judge Zilly stated at the end of the hearing that he would give a ruling at a future time after assessing the arguments.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Protect Immigrant Children

Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. ensure that immigrants and their children coming to the United States have the proper documentation to legally remain here. We understand what you and your children may be going through and we are here to help. If you or a loved one is in need of legal representation for any aspect of immigration law, contact us via our online contact form or call us today at 215-925-4435 for a consultation.