NEW YORK, August 5 (RIA Novosti) – Fast-tracked immigration hearings for Central American child migrants in the US are too quick and deportations put at risk youngsters who face violence back home, a spokeswoman for the New York Immigration Coalition Thanu Yakupitiyage told RIA Novosti Tuesday.
“A lot of these cases are being looked at too quickly without the immigration courts having enough opportunity to review cases in a timely way,” said Yakupitiyage. “We are worried young children will be deported back to situations that are extremely dangerous and have their lives put at risk. Part of due process is respecting that we are able to build up a child’s defense and these so-called ‘rocket dockets’ don’t let us do that.”
More than 57,000 unaccompanied children, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, have been caught crossing the US-Mexican border illegally since October 2013. Under a 2008 law, they are cared for by the government or US-based relatives until an immigration hearing.
Several US civil and legal rights groups have complained about immigration courts speeding up deportation hearings against children in an expedited legal process that has been dubbed a "rocket docket".
President Barack Obama has asked Congress to approve an emergency $3.7 billion bill to deal with an influx of young migrants that has strained resources at the border, in immigration courts and government-run detention centers.
“In the rush to schedule children’s immigration court hearings immediately, we cannot lose sight of the government’s obligation to ensure due process,” Beth Werlin, a lawyer at the American Immigration Council said.
“Many children are eligible to remain in the United States, but may be ordered deported simply because they do not understand our complex immigration laws and how to prove their claims.”