Lawyers: Fast-Track Deportations Don't Protect Kid's Rights

Image: Lawyers: Fast-Track Deportations Don't Protect Kid's Rights Guatemalan families, deported from Phoenix, Arizona in the U.S., walk at an Air Force base after arriving on a flight transporting illegal Guatemalan migrants. (Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters/Landov)

Tuesday, 29 Jul 2014 07:51 AM

By Elliot Jager

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There is push-back from immigration lawyers against the Justice Department's decision to move more swiftly to deport Central American migrant children who arrived in the country illegally, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The lawyers say that fast-tracking such cases could undermine the due process rights of the children.

They point to instances where hearing dates were brought up making it difficult for children who had moved to other jurisdictions to be in court. And also that more time is needed to secure legal representation for the children. In the absence of a lawyer, nine out of 10 illegals are returned to their countries, the Journal reported.

"If we do it in condensed way, it's rushed justice that results in no justice at all," said Gregory Chen of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, according to the Journal.

"Due process means a fair process that enables a person to come before a judge or adjudicator and explain what has happened, such that a judge can make a decision to whether the individual qualifies for the laws' protections," said Chen.

Sen. John Cornyn, R., Texas and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D., Texas have introduced legislation that would allow Border Patrol agents to decide on the spot whether a child can be deported subject to final approval by a judge within seven days.

Immigration lawyers view moves that expedite the deportation process as setting the stage for legal errors. Such mistakes, they say, would be appealed by immigration advocates creating the prospect of even bigger court backlogs.

Immigration advocates say that 228 full-time immigration judges are presently juggling over 375,500 cases.

The administration has requested money for more judges and legal aid for the children as part of a $3.7 billion funding package, the Journal reported.

Senate Republicans have said that is too much money and that most of it would not be spent in the current fiscal year. They also oppose spending that is not tied to other measures including amending the law that has made deportation of children arriving from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras burdensome.

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