America Offers Kids Separated From Parents Free Crash Course in Legalogy

You were probably wondering what's going on with all those kids separated from their parents at the border that Jeff Sessions finds so goshdarn funny. Don't you worry. This is America kind of, and those children are going to get their day in court.

As the White House faces court orders to reunite families separated at the border, immigrant children as young as 3 are being ordered into court for their own deportation proceedings, according to attorneys in Texas, California and Washington, D.C.

Requiring unaccompanied minors to go through deportation alone is not a new practice. But since the Trump administration's controversial family separation policy, more young children — including toddlers — are being affected than in the past.

The 2,000-plus children will likely need to deal with court proceedings even as they grapple with the ongoing trauma of being taken from their parents.

I suppose when you're confused and scared, crying out for your mother, you could use a diversion, and there's nothing better than the complex workings of U.S. immigration law.

This has naturally disturbed and horrified our responsible, engaged elected officials.

Gosh, folks are speaking like characters in a David Mamet play from the '80s or a Quentin Tarantino movie from the '90s? This must shock the sensibilities of Koch brothers sock puppet Marco Rubio, who was born in the distant past of 1971. Someone summon the fainting Barcalounger for Aunt Linda over here. By the way, the plaintive cry of "who made that decision???" is always comforting to hear from a lawmaker elected to make decisions. Maybe it would reassure Rubio to know that the kiddie courts maintain a strict PG rating?

Given the trauma the children faced in their home country that spurred their families to flee and the pain of being separated from a parent, the expectation that children can mount a legal defense is "unconscionable," said Dr. Benard Dreyer, director of the division of developmental-behavioral pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine.

"It's certainly grossly inappropriate," said Dreyer, who is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics advocacy committee. "I'm ashamed that we're doing this."

Leaders at three legal services organizations and a private firm confirmed that the children are being served with notices to appear in court. They are not entitled to an attorney but rather are given a list of legal services organizations that might help them.

I agree it's unconscionable that the US isn't providing these children with actual lawyers. I don't expect Atticus Finch, but even the bad kids who got turned into donkeys in Pinocchio had access to Jiminy Cricket (yeah, he admittedly graduated from Pepperdine but he worked pro bono and did the best he could).

I'm not surprised, though, that this was ever allowed in the first place. Brown kids are rarely viewed as actual children but simply threats to white people that are "fun sized." Some of the immigration courts do provide kids with legal representation, but that's not typical and the Trump administration's recent actions haven't helped matters.

"We know that in vast numbers of cases, there is not proper representation," [US Rep. Steny] Hoyer said, adding that some kids are "not old enough to spell their own names, let alone represent themselves in court."

True, they're not competent to represent themselves now, but it only took Elle Woods two hours to become a winning trial lawyer in Legally Blonde. Maybe we could look at this as one of those promised Trump infrastructure programs. Bernie Sanders was going to hand out free college to whiny teens, but Trump is delivering free on-the-job legal training to migrant children. If these kids avoid deportation, they could go on to start a successful practice on the "right" side of the border.

The reality, unfortunately, is that these kids are getting callously stamped returned to sender (address unknown because they really don't care -- do you?). The Trump regime plans to make it almost impossible to seek asylum here unless you're a white kid in a rocket ship from Krypton.

The Department of Justice, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is drafting a plan that would totally overhaul asylum policy in the United States.

Under the plan, people would be barred from getting asylum if they came into the US between ports of entry and were prosecuted for illegal entry. It would also add presumptions that would make it extremely difficult for Central Americans to qualify for asylum, and codify — in an even more restrictive form — an opinion written by Sessions in June that attempted to restrict asylum for victims of domestic and gang violence.

The Immigration and Nationality Act gives the attorney general, along with the Department of Homeland Security, discretion over asylum standards — saying that the government "may grant asylum" to an applicant who they determine meets the definition of a refugee. But the proposed regulation would make it nearly impossible for Central Americans, including families, to earn the government's approval.

The Supreme Court already said Trump can ban Muslims from entering the country if his lawyers pinkie swear that's not what he's doing. His likely end game is so scary I bet even Confederate sympathizer Steve King would be down with it.

Yikes. if you'll excuse me, I need to have a word with my cricket attorney.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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