Migrant children as young as 3 years of age are served with notices to appear in court alone for their deportation proceedings, immigration attorneys from Texas, California and Washington, D.C. told the Texas Tribune.
The Tribune notes that while having unaccompanied minors appear in court without their parents is not an uncommon practice, more children than before are being ordered into court in the wake of the Trump administration’s controversial family separation policy.
It is likely that the more than 2,000 detained migrant children will have to face immigration court proceedings in the coming days as they grapple with the ongoing trauma of being taken from their parents.
“We were representing a 3-year-old in court recently who had been separated from the parents. And the child — in the middle of the hearing — started climbing up on the table,” said Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center in Los Angeles. “It really highlighted the absurdity of what we’re doing with these kids.”
“The parent might be the only one who knows why they fled from the home country, and the child is in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves,” Toczylowski said.
A UCLA child psychology professor, Steve Lee, told the Texas Tribune that having young children go into court to advocate for themselves: “couldn’t be any less developmentally appropriate.”
The Hill notes:
The court summons for children come as the Department of Health and Human Services says it is working to reunite migrant families after a federal judge ruled the Trump administration must immediately reunite those separated under the “zero tolerance” policy.