“It sounds bizarre, it is bizarre, but this is what’s happening,” said Wendy Young, president of Kids In Need of Defense, an organization that provides free legal counsel to immigrant kids. “It’s obviously tragic but not surprising to us.”

About one in three unaccompanied minors were represented in immigration court in fiscal year 2017, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Of the kids denied asylum in 2017, 91 percent were unrepresented. And of the kids granted relief, just 14 percent were unrepresented, according to the same data.