Photo: Barack Obama (Pete Souza)
Several organizations on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the administration of President Barack Obama over the lack of attorneys protecting the rights of immigrant children in deportation proceedings.
The American Immigration Council issued a statement announcing the filing of the suit along with the American Civil Liberties Union, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel and K&L Gates LLP.
“It is simply unacceptable that children are forced to stand alone before an immigration judge, pitted against trained attorneys from the federal government,” Matt Adams, legal director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said.
Over the past 10 months, some 57,000 minors, most of them coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, have been detained upon their arrival in the country as undocumented immigrants.
Each year, the government initiates judicial proceedings against thousands of children, including some who have lived in the United States for years, the American Immigration Council said.
“If we believe in due process for children in our country, then we cannot abandon them when they face deportation in our immigration courts,” Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said.
“The government pays for a trained prosecutor to advocate for the deportation of every child. It is patently unfair to force children to defend themselves alone,” he said.
Among the plaintiffs are several children coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
Obama on Tuesday asked Congress to approve the allocation of $3.7 billion with the aim of accelerating the judicial proceedings of the immigrant children and increasing the available resources to be able to provide them with humanitarian treatment.