Rush to Deport Young Migrants Could Trample Asylum Claims

Overview of situation, including stories of children and quotes from Jonathan Ryan of Texas RAICES, which screens unaccompanied minors in an emergency shelter at Lackland Air Force Base.

News Story (INTERNATIONAL, Texas)

Julia Preston
New York Times (NYT)
July 19, 2014
Link to story

Tags: Children & Juvenile, Immigration Process, Language Access

Organizations mentioned/involved: RAICES (Texas), South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR)


“Many children would be sent back to harm,” said Jonathan Ryan, executive director of Raices, a legal-services organization in San Antonio that has conducted in-depth screenings of more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors in an emergency shelter at Lackland Air Force Base. “We would have their names here, and the morgue in Tegucigalpa will have the bodies down there,” he said, referring to the capital of Honduras.

Mr. Ryan and other advocates who have conducted deeper screenings of more than 3,000 Central American minors this year in shelters in Texas found that at least half could present viable claims for visas.
Mr. Merida said he told nothing of his history to the Border Patrol officer who caught him less than an hour after he rafted across the Rio Grande [in 2009].

“You can’t talk to them,” he said last week. “They are just trying to throw you back again.”

But after a week in a health department detention shelter in Harlingen, he said, he watched a presentation about his legal rights and later met a lawyer from Mr. Ryan’s organization. “I felt comfortable talking to them,” he said. “I changed my mind and decided to tell the truth.”

Mr. Merida went to immigration court and was granted a green card. He graduated from high school and is getting ready to join the Marines.

“It is a happiness I can’t describe in words,” he said.