Some people in California might have heard that more than 7,000 immigrant minors are being deported even though they have not appeared in court. The minors crossed the border from Central American countries in 2013 without documentation.
Most of the kids are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and they left their homes to escape murder and gang violence. Now they face being sent back into those situations because they did not show up for their removal hearings.
However, advocates for the children say that many of them never received hearing date notices because of court system issues. The president of Kids in Need of Defense says the border crisis has become an issue with due process, and she urges the government to reopen the cases and to temporarily cease the issuance of removal orders to minors who miss court hearings.
Immigration lawyers also say that many court notices are sent to wrong addresses, arrive too late or never arrive at all. A Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service lawyer said that, in 2014, only one of her clients received a court notice before the hearing.
The president of the National Association of Immigration Judges agrees that the system has flaws but notes that it is hard to determine how many people are not showing up for hearings because of errors and how many people are just dodging the process. Meanwhile, on March 4, a panel of the House approved a bill intended to speed the process of removing Central American immigrants to avoid another border crisis.
Immigrants who believe that they are facing removal from the United States unfairly could talk to family immigration attorneys about what can be done for them to stay in the country. The attorneys might be able to at least postpone the removal so that the immigrants can plead their cases.
Source: Latin Post, "Immigration: 7,000 Latin American Children to Be Deported Without Court Appearance," Claudia Balthazar, March 9, 2015