The injustice of deporting children without representation

Deportation hearings in which children must defend themselves are not right, but they will continue.

Op-Ed (California)

Hector Villagra
Los Angeles Times (LA Times)
March 17, 2016

Tags: Children & Juvenile, Deportation, Due Process, Immigration Process

Organizations mentioned/involved: Department of Justice (DOJ)


he government has pointed to the cost of providing counsel in these cases. But due process is about doing what’s necessary to protect the rights at stake, not what’s the most inexpensive or expedient. And when it comes to expense, we must also ask how the government can spend the money to hire a trained prosecutor to appear against the child in every case, but then claim that it’s too expensive to level the playing field?

The most appropriate resolution to ensure that we aren’t deporting those who would otherwise qualify to remain in the U.S. would be legislation that requires counsel for migrant children. Until that happens, the Justice Department could at least prioritize its deportation cases by moving those children who are represented to the front of the line and those who aren’t to the back.

This would give those who are currently unrepresented additional time to seek out a pro bono attorney or funds for representation, and it would mean that the cases would proceed only against those children who have counsel.