Child Immigration

The US has been debating the rights of unaccompanied child immigrants for weeks now. Immigration courts are pushing deportation hearings through quickly as lawmakers continue the debate and also consider if attorneys should be provided at the government’s expense.

Here in Seattle, the non-profit group Northwest Immigrants Rights Project is suing the federal government on behalf of thousands of children facing the deportation hearings. The group believes that the constitution guarantees them a fair hearing with the right to an attorney. They say the children should be able to present their defense. Some children qualify to stay in the US for political asylum if they are refugees, and others may qualify for family visas if a parent has legal status. Northwest Immigrants Rights Project says it’s not fair to expect the children, especially the younger ones, to be able to know all of the rights they are entitled to and defend themselves in court.

The ACLU and other advocacy groups are filing the injunction to ask a federal court to immediately stop the government from continuing deportation hearings unless the immigrant children are guaranteed an attorney. The original lawsuit was filed in early July, but at the beginning of this month, the injunction was filed for a specific group of child immigrants.