U.S. Weakens Protections for Minors in Immigration Courts

U.S. Weakens Protections for Minors in Immigration Courts

A December memo from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) has revised the 2007 guidelines for immigration judges dealing with unaccompanied minors who are now facing deportation. This memo weakens protections for minors in immigration court by removing some of the safeguards that immigration judges previously were advised to implement when it came to minors in the courtroom. For instance, Reuters is reporting that the new memo removes any instructions for immigration judges as to “child-sensitive” questioning in court. The memo reminds judges that they must be impartial, despite the fact that juvenile cases may be more sympathetic than those of adult immigrants. In many instances, the word “child” has been replaced with the phrase “unmarried individual under the age of 18,” which is designed to encourage judges to think of unaccompanied minors to be less like children and more like immigrants who have illegally crossed the U.S. border. While EOIR officials have justified the memo as a necessary update and clarification of current policy to be consistent with current law, immigration advocates, and by all accounts, immigration judges, generally find the memo to be detrimental to children making court appearances in deportation proceedings. Similarly, whereas previous policy guidance advised immigration judges to make children more comfortable in the courtroom by allowing them to explore all aspects of it ahead of time, the new guidance states that these measures only should be taken as time and resources permit, and that children never should be permitted to explore the judge’s bench. Likewise, the memo warns immigration judges to be skeptical about a child’s allegations, since they usually receive more favorable treatment in immigration court than other immigrants, and to be on the lookout for signs of fraud and abuse. Whether your loved one is a minor or an adult immigrant, America’s current political climate makes living in the U.S. very difficult for those with no legal immigration status. At Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., we are dedicated to protecting your rights, no matter your age or immigration status. We know how to evaluate your case, explore your options, and provide you with the strongest defense against removal possible. Contact your California deportation defense attorneys today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.
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