Report: Thousands of Migrant Children Are No-Shows at Hearings

Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 10:31 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Thousands of illegal juvenile immigrants from Central America do not show up for their deportation hearings across the country, the Justice Department estimates, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Eighteen out of 20 unaccompanied migrant children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador failed to turn up for their immigration hearing in Dallas one day this week, the newspaper said.

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Juan Osuna, who heads the Justice Department’s immigration courts, told a congressional committee recently that, on average, 46 percent of juvenile migrants miss their immigration court hearings, according to the Morning News.

Homeland Security has estimated that 100,000 juveniles have entered the U.S. illegally without a parent in the last two fiscal years, which would mean that 46,000 of them were or will be no-shows at deportation hearings.

The 90 percent absentee rate in the Dallas courtroom alarmed federal Immigration Judge Michael Baird, who said it was "highly unusual." He set a new date, Aug. 11, for the 18 missing juveniles to show up or he’ll issue deportation orders, the Morning News reported.

Baird expressed concerned that the children may not have properly been informed of the hearings by immigration authorities, while Homeland Security attorney Lynn Javier said it was "prudent" to set a new date for the hearings, according to the newspaper.

The extent of the no-shows led to suggestions that the children and their families had deliberately missed the court dates and had absconded, the Morning News said.

None of the 18 children due to appear in the Dallas court were represented by attorneys in their absence, while the two juveniles who did show up also didn’t have lawyers.

The research organization Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse has estimated that nine out of 10 unaccompanied juveniles who do not have attorneys will be deported, said the Morning News.

The minors typically ask for asylum during the hearings, claiming they fled gang violence back in their countries, but their allegations are hard to prove and are often unsuccessful.

The Executive Office of Immigration Review, which faces a backlog of 375,000 cases, was recently ordered to make the hearings of migrant minors their first priority, the Morning News reported.

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